FEED THE POKéMON
Japan is a cash society. This means that in most places of business credit cards are either not accepted or terribly inconvenient to use. Personal checks do not exist here, and traveller’s cheques are looked at with much confusion, hand-wringing, and teeth-sucking. It is not uncommon to carry around upwards of 3-Man (30,000 Yen or $300) on your person. If you are, say, walking to the Apple store in Osaka to pick up a new MacBook Pro you will likely have 15—Man ($1500) burning a hole in your pocket.
Most progressive, forward-thinking nations (read: not America) have done away with paper currency in small denominations, as it is expensive to produce. One-upping the Euro’s 2 Euro coin, Japan’s largest coin denomination is 500 Yen. They’re rather large and heavy, much more difficult to lose than a quarter. I’m pretty sure I’ve never lost one or found one on the street.
Early into my first year I began a system of saving money with the secondary goal of discouraging midnight convenience store runs for chicken-mayo rice balls, curry bread, and vending machine sodas. I bought a Pokémon bank for 100 Yen from a local “recycle shop” and began following one very simple rule: Any time I return home with a 500 Yen coin in my pocket, I must FEED THE POKéMON.
After a year and a half of this, my Pokémon is extremely fat with the weight of 65 of these coins. That’s 32,500 Yen ($350 or so). I am told that the Pokémon is a Turtwig #387, but as this number is higher than 151 I haven’t bothered to commit this name to memory.
If you decide to try the FEED THE POKéMON Method™, I recommend setting a goal item or purpose for the bank ahead of time. I can’t think of anything to spend the money on. I keep shaking the coins into the head to make room for more, and now it is next to impossible to keep the Pokémon standing. My no-smoke fund is earmarked for whatever sexy baby the Macbook Pro and Macbook Air lines are in bed right now making, and my rock-and-roll lifestyle does not need much more encouragement. #firstworldproblems
I can’t believe I’m just running into this, but the new iOS5 dictionary will look up Japanese > English.
Select the word > Define
About 5 taps and 10 seconds faster than using your favorite dictionary app. I assume this will work for many other supported languages.