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Weak yen boosts tourist wallets in Japan

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By Mathias CENA and Hiroshi HIYAMA

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It's so cheap in Japan now! Apart from accommodation, it's not too different to Thailand and other Asian nations.

-12 ( +23 / -35 )

If you're from a lower income country, then the prices have risen to cater for demand. Even for developed countries the prices of accommodation are very high due to over demand.

However the high speed railways are much cheaper now albeit still expensive but much cheaper.

6 ( +19 / -13 )

Japanese household consumption has been in constant decline since March 2023, due to inflation -- the weak yen makes imports pricier -- weakening purchasing power.

Gotta love this. For years J govt expert economists were spouting the BS line saying stagnant prices / deflation was the cause of J-consumers not spending and were hailing inflation as the economy saviour. Now they finally have their precious inflation and their excuses have done a complete U-turn, lol. Hopeless as ever.

-1 ( +20 / -21 )

Isn't there any other news in Japan today?

-9 ( +7 / -16 )

What about those of us who live here? We're not an amusement park.

-10 ( +21 / -31 )

Foreign tourists are flocking to Japan in record numbers and thanks to a sliding yen many are living like kings, splashing out on everything from kimonos to knives and slap-up meals.

Fantastic for foreign tourists and property/asset holders profiting from the weak yen.

Visitors are "getting great value for money," said Akiko Kohsaka, an economist at the Japan Research Institute and an expert on tourism.*

Japanese people must be exultant that their leaders have created such a pleasant situation for inbound tourists.

"A lot of people do the math and when they see the equivalent in their country's currency they say: 'Wow, I'm going to buy that too'," said Saori Iida, who works in a shop selling traditional second-hand Japanese clothes.

"Yesterday, we had someone who bought 15 kimonos," she said.

If Ms. IIda is not an owner and working at the shop I wonder if she has seen a wonderful rise in her income?

I think not.

2 ( +16 / -14 )

Japan has sold out its residents, who are now poor.

The average nominal wage in Japan is currently ¥369,239 for full-time workers. (That’s $2,340/month x 12 = $28,000/year)

Nominal wages are the average total monthly cash earnings per worker including base and overtime pay.

https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/business/economy/20240307-173037/

-9 ( +16 / -25 )

One year ago the dollar-yen for ¥1,000,000 was $7299 now it's $6451.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

No reason tourists should not pay the insufferable 10% sales tax. Take the good with the bad.

-2 ( +20 / -22 )

News articles like this won't help with local residents' increasing distaste for tourists throngs. It's gotta be tough to see tourists splashing dough left and right while your own purchasing power seemingly decreases day by day where you live.

And fair or not, a lot of Japanese people will not be happy with their country being compared to a low-cost, high-volume tourist destination like Thailand or Bali. With these exchange rates, though, it's almost creeping in that direction.

5 ( +18 / -13 )

The tourism industry in Japan has never been bigger. Employing hundreds of thousands of locals, and pumping enormous money into businesses - from hotels, to bars and restaurants, to supermarkets and countless more.

And I predict it will grow much, much bigger in the next few years. Japanese youth in school and college are certainly eyeing a future in hospitality and tourism.

-7 ( +14 / -21 )

Japan is impoverished and the expats like us suffer of such conditions and primarly the locals as well.

-13 ( +16 / -29 )

Japanese household consumption has been in constant decline since March 2023, due to inflation -- the weak yen makes imports pricier -- weakening purchasing power.

Im looking for all the imports that are now getting expensive. I have to admit chocolate is a tad more expensive. Some bread is more expensive but apart from that I don’t really see that many imports getting that more expensive.

yeah sure fuel and oil is bit more expensive, but not like some countries. We seem to have moved production from China which was getting more expensive to India, Vietnam, Bangladesh etc. keeping prices down as much as possible. so now after decades of deflation the evil in the economy is ”inflation” resulting in people getting poorer but when it was the other way round the rub was companies struggling and the consumers yen going further. What a load is poop! So which is it? Deflation or inflation. Never happy. The shops selling knives, bags, cameras etc aren’t complaining. Or their workers. Their yen is still the same. And everything in my house is Japanese. Apart from Apple. But I buy used!

0 ( +9 / -9 )

Living like kings? At Donki?

8 ( +12 / -4 )

LOL the authors off this article must be living in some kind of J ghetto somewhere to think that tourists 'are living like kings' just because the yen is weak so they're paying less for products and services that were always overpriced anyway.

What's a 'slap up meal' anyway? When I've been to countries like France and Italy I've enjoyed great, healthy food for way lower prices than quaity J food. Had pasta and dessert in the UK at places that weren't much more than Pepper Lunch and the pasta certainly didn't taste like it comes out of a can unlike Pepper Lunch and similarly priced places in Japan.

The reporting of tourism in Japan just gets weirder and less credible apart from real issue stories of dumb tourist behavior near the conbini around Mt Fuji, riding go-carts supplied by a Japanese company and annoying the public and some inappropriate behavior in Kyoto.

We have hysteria about 'over tourism' encouraged by the Japanese Govt but made to sound as if foreigners are just coming suddenly to Japan with no official approval and on the other hand we have these dumb stories of foreign tourists who apparently feel like royalty because those compound chocolate kit kats with fake sake and green tea flavors and cardboard cookies in Don Q are now cheaper due to the weak yen.

Oh yea and as an American, believe me I can get bigger, better and cheaper burgers/sandwiches/shakes/fried chicken etc in my home city. Akiko Kohsaka who claims that tourists can't get the same food value in their home countries obviously has never been to the US and countries like Malaysia, Taiwan and even rich Singapore which still do great food cheaply - not to mentiion many places in Paris and Rome. And they're not the only ones. Or maybe this economist expert on tourists spends her time abroad snapping photos of herself and doesn't do the real.

1 ( +11 / -10 )

Japan became so cheap tourists can barely believe how much they can get.

-8 ( +6 / -14 )

Japanese youth in school and college are certainly eyeing a future in hospitality and tourism.

According to who, @Fighto/Isabelle?

What youth want a job that, on average, pays a wage that is below the country’s average nominal wage?

According to PayLab, “the gross salary range for people working in Japan in Tourism, Gastronomy, Hotel Business is typically from 210,681 JPY to 452,820 JPY. This is the total monthly salary including bonuses.”

That is an average of 331,000 JPY, which is below the average nominal wage of 369,239 JPY.

0 ( +10 / -10 )

@ Asiaman7 - not everyone gets - or wants - the high-paying, government jobs. Plus, those with a flair for languages, for instance, are attracted to tourism. They could well end up managing a 5-star hotel making a very big salary.

-7 ( +9 / -16 )

Well, I bought my house at Y89 to the dollar so I'm not celebrating. But I do appreciate going into 7/11 and buying fun food at low prices. Beer doesn't even seem so expensive now unless you are drinking a good West Coast IPA from Bend, Ore.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

"typically from 210,681 JPY to 452,820 JPY"

That is an average of 331,000 JPY

No it's not. You can't just add the two extremes and divide them by two. And that's not even considering that, according to the source, that's not even two extremes.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

And I predict it will grow much, much bigger in the next few years. Japanese youth in school and college are certainly eyeing a future in hospitality and tourism.

A dead end future of precarious work, where the lions share goes to absent property owners, dealing with language and culture barriers, for non-living wages.

Which can be cut short by events like a pandemic or war.

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/companies-markets/consumer-healthcare/japans-jtb-lay-6500-coronavirus-batters-travel?amp

Where the workers will be left to there own devices while the LDP gov bails out the business owners.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

@ Asiaman7 - not everyone gets - or wants - the high-paying, government jobs. Plus, those with a flair for languages, for instance, are attracted to tourism. They could well end up managing a 5-star hotel making a very big salary.

Government jobs are far from "high paying", the only appeal is the stability. The actual starting pay of someone working as a fulltime hire at NHK is over double that of a government position at starting salary.

You are quite right about the 5-star hotels! Here in Okinawa there are a number of "foreigners" who are general managers and they make great money!

1 ( +6 / -5 )

No it's not. You can't just add the two extremes and divide them by two. And that's not even considering that, according to the source, that's not even two extremes.

Well, let’s use SalaryExplorer then, which produces basically the same data …

“A person working in Food / Hospitality / Tourism / Catering in Japan typically earns around 354,000 JPY.”

https://www.salaryexplorer.com/average-salary-wage-comparison-japan-food-hospitality-tourism-catering-c107f28

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

The same is true if I was visiting Bali, the Philippines, Mumbai, or Thailand. Now only the pollution has increased.

When the Casinos comes, the crime will increase, too!

It all still sucks for the locals and any other kind of longterm resident!

Abenomics is turning Japan into a 3rd world country.

-6 ( +9 / -15 )

Here in Okinawa there are a number of "foreigners" who are general managers and they make great money!

How many people below those general managers not making that great money? The housekeepers, servers, restaurant assistants, hotel staff, kitchen staff, receptionists, waiters/waitresses?

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Ramsey's Kitchen

Gotta love this. For years J govt expert economists were spouting the BS line saying stagnant prices / deflation was the cause of J-consumers not spending and were hailing inflation as the economy saviour. Now they finally have their precious inflation and their excuses have done a complete U-turn, lol. Hopeless as ever.

Economics isn’t a science, it’s at best a handcrafted art form. Ask 5 economists a question, you will get 7 mutually different answers.

Inflation and deflation are both bad or good but for different groups. Politicians, Banks and exporters love inflation, importers and ordinary people hate it but benefit from deflation.

Tourism is also part of the economic mix, if that is what makes you money, go with it. What politicians complaining about over tourism never realise is that it is their failure to properly manage it they are highlighting.

Redemption

No reason tourists should not pay the insufferable 10% sales tax. Take the good with the bad.

Petty spite, cut your nose off to spite your face. By giving a small benefit tourists end up spending more thus boosting the overall Japanese economy, to the ultimate benefit of all. Also Japan is in competition with other tourist destinations who offer the same, in the UK it’s a 15% benefit

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Malaysia, Taiwan and even rich Singapore which still do great food cheaply - not to mentiion many places in Paris and Rome

Tell me you've never been to Paris, without telling me you've never been to Paris.

Rome is also notorious for robbing tourists blind with overpriced food in cafes. I've been, but only once thirty years ago. Me and my ex went to what the Japanese guidebook said was the best gelato place in town. It was pretty good, and there were locals in there in what looked like real fur coats, but when I went to the toilet, which wasn't divided male/female, the toilet seat was missing. At the best gelato place in town! I couldn't get over it.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

I've been, but only once thirty years ago.

That is all we need to know!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Japan=The world's Disneyland.

-16 ( +4 / -20 )

Japan is the new Taiwan of asia. A playing ground for tourists with locals struggling with low pays and being the items in the circus.

-15 ( +2 / -17 )

I would have to disagree with this article. Yes, of course the Yen seems to be weakening. For example, the rate against GDP is quite severe, but it doesn't mean all of a sudden Japan is cheap for all travellers. Comparing Japan to Thailand, Vietnam or other countries alike is quite absurd. Yes, Japan is cheaper than many EU countries, the UK and Australia, but it's still far more expensive than many other places.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Poor Kohakuebisu relies on a Japanese guidebook to find gelato while in Rome and wonders why it wasn't an amazing gastronomic experience with a good price. He also went once thirty years ago and thinks that is the benchmark for judging a world city and its food/beverages culture.

Rome and Paris to name only two cities do have cheap, quality food options that aren't available in Tokyo. Sure there's some good food in Tokyo but J economists and writers plus their non Japanese collaborators in exaggeration have zero cred with their laughable assertions re tourists eating like royalty because of the weak yen.

Went to Rome and Paris in September last year. Had great coffee in Rome with a reasonable size cup for 200 euros, amazing Italian pastries for 200 - 300 euros and pasta fresh from the cafe kitchens for 500 euros. Didn't eat at cafes or restaurants that catered for tourists or didn't give bang for my money. Had quality meals with a coffee or soda at immigrant cafes for 700 euros.

In Paris had set menu meals of 3 courses plus coffee for 12 to 15 euros at different cafes. Had Algerian and Tunisian food that was amazing for under 10 euros, found immigrant places that made great chicken and salad sandwiches or burgers and gave you a cake and coffee or soda as well for 9 euros. Not to mention the fresh Parisian lemon meringue tarts and others of generous size for around 400 euros.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Living like kings doing their shopping at DonQuihote, Daiso and BookOff (",)

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Increasing foreign travelers in Japan is same trend from before Covid19 era, but it hasn't benefited whole society of Japan.

Weak yen only enrich handful such as travel industries or large corporations making money by export, but causing more damages or burdens to most of other people.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

I hate it when tourists say that 10,000 yen is cheap. There was a time that was about 100 dollars, now it's just $60.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

@blacksamurai

please tell me where in the US are there cheaper better quality foods you mentioned. Not to mention not having to pay tip. I’ve had good wagyu burgers that taste great in Japan which will cost much more in the US than in Japan. Red Robin burgers are more expensive than wagyu burgers. Oh, none of that, it might be expensive than Japanese burgers but it taste soooooo much better even if there’s tip involved!

I want to know cheaper and better quality food in the US that you mentioned. List some places for references

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

amazing Italian pastries for 200 - 300 euros and pasta fresh from the cafe kitchens for 500 euros. Didn't eat at cafes or restaurants that catered for tourists or didn't give bang for my money.

Crikey, you certainly got banged for your money.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

One man's loss is another man's gain!! Back in the 80's Japan's citizen's traveled all over the world how soon do they forget they too were buying up everything because the Yen was strong now that the yen is weak they are complaining. If anyone can recall prior to COVID Japan's tourism was great after COVID the country lost thousand of dollars and the people complained business was low and Japan could not wait to boost tourism. The questions is what is it the leaders and the people want. Be careful what you ask for too much or too little can also be a problem!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

amazing Italian pastries for 200 - 300 euros and pasta fresh from the cafe kitchens for 500 euros. Didn't eat at cafes or restaurants that catered for tourists or didn't give bang for my money.

My brother in Rome does not pay those prices. His apartment rent is 300 euros.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

please tell me where in the US are there cheaper better quality foods you mentioned. Not to mention not having to pay tip. I’ve had good wagyu burgers that taste great in Japan which will cost much more in the US than in Japan. Red Robin burgers are more expensive than wagyu burgers. Oh, none of that, it might be expensive than Japanese burgers but it taste soooooo much better even if there’s tip involved!

I want to know cheaper and better quality food in the US that you mentioned. List some places for references

Obviously it would still be cheaper to stay at home and go to a Japanese restaurant in USA than to purchase a plane ticket to Japan to buy a cheaper burger.

Hello ???

Enough said !

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@Blacksamurai the prices you wrote make no sense (hundreds of euros?)

Also to your example... Paris is definitely not a cheap city, very much the opposite in any thinkable way.

Incidentally, I've been to Rome two weeks ago and it definitely was not cheap either. I do not even mean places catering to tourists, just generally the prices went up even for locals. All over Europe pretty much.

And if someone were to travel with their savings in yen to Europe now, get ready for severe emotional (and financial) damage.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

It may have been apocryphal, but on the eve of the Great Depression, the signal to head for the exits was when the taxi drivers and shoe shine boys started dispensing stock tips. It’s deja vu parallel universe insanity all over again when Aussies are the world’s #1 spenders, Japan’s the world’s theme park, and social welfare sponges elsewhere are receiving more than what many here make for working 40 hour weeks. Nuts!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

LOL I've been living in Japan so long I put those euro prices into yen format, sorry for the confusion.

To those claiming Paris is not a cheap city - no, not for tourist hotels, high end restaurants and not before the Paris Olympics. But if you're not prepared to explore and go around and find good supermarkets as in well priced with variety and follow guidebooks and websites to choose your cafes/restaurants then it will be expensive.

The metro is the way to go but you have to do your homework on the tickets/cards to find the value options.

Like Paris, Rome has fees for sitting and eating/drinking but that was about all I paid. All the cafes/restaurants I went to had their prices listed with any surcharges - in Europe you'll pay more for not paying attention to prices or going to places with no prices listed. That's down to you. The cheeses, yogurt and just plain ol milk were cheap and high quality in both Paris and Rome supermarkets, the biscuits and snacks like that too.

The subway in Rome is good value so is the subway in London, so are the buses there - so many tourists don't seem to understand that oyster cards give you cheaper travel the more you do it.

As for my home country the US - any Japanese telling me that Japan is treating tourists royally because burgers and sandwiches are better value and the tourists know, then that's some ol horseshizz. If you can't eat good burgers and sandwiches with better quality and size in the US, you're going to the wrong places.

Chinese food is far superior in the US, the US has more healthy option variety if you want to actually look for it and no it doesn't have to be expensive. Most people who gripe about US food choices don't go and meet real people from all over the world who make great food.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Well, more money from tourist..

More money for Japan..

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

I've been, but only once thirty years ago.

And you feel that is still relevant…how?

We’ve been to Rome 3 times in the last 5 years…spent a total of 3 weeks in the city.

Theres nothing unique about the pricing; the scams and gouging that happen there happen in all major cities. Touristy places will rip you off for Chef Boy-Ar-Dee quality pasta, but a block away will be a place with some of the best pasta you ever have.

i dare say in this day and age, with ALLLL the resources available at everyone’s fingertips at all times, if you’re still getting ripped off places, that’s likely on you.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Asiaman7

Regarding your first post of nominal wages in Japan. I agree that most workers in Japan now have poverty wages. That $28,000/year in Japan is actually less than what a professional makes just in bonuses in North America in a year.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

That $28,000/year in Japan is actually less than what a professional makes just in bonuses in North America in a year

What kind of professional are you talking about?

You keep talking about ‘North America’.

Are the countries in North America paying the same rates?

This is all very vague.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

@Jimizo A person in a professional job not right out of university, late 20's and older with a degree typically has a base salary of $100,000 with quarterly and annual bonuses of $30,000.

Real jobs like engineering, mechanic, plumber, electrician, accounting, pharmacist, any manager position or anything STEM related. Basically anyone with an education in a field that doesn't end in "studies."

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

@Jimizo

The average salary of a manger, a professional position, at Target pays over $100,00.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Jimizo A person in a professional job not right out of university, late 20's and older with a degree typically has a base salary of $100,000 with quarterly and annual bonuses of $30,000

Where? In the US? Canada? Mexico? The other countries of North America?

Best specify the country or countries you are talking about.

Real jobs like engineering, mechanic, plumber, electrician, accounting, pharmacist, any manager position or anything STEM related.

I’m from a STEM background and have worked in the manufacturing sector. I’ve done pretty well.

The biggest earners I know from my peer group came from a background in law.

By the way, I wouldn’t knock STEM and I think making it more attractive is beneficial to countries.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I just left Japan after a 2 week stay in Toyocho Koto Tokyo. I loved it. There are a lot of tourist, it is true. I want to say most are on good behavior. I hope so, and if a few spoiled it I wish to say sorry to Japan for this even though it wasn't me. I love respecting a countries customs. I hope the tourism helps the economy some at least. I will return even if the yen goes back to the reasonable 100 per dollar.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Tourism in Japan only account 2% of its economy not really a big impact while they are spoiling social order. I do not really get the logic because tourists can get 10% discount while the locals are struggling price increases that tighten our budget because of low wages.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Transportation is still expensive in Japan. Tourists can at least get a discount, but foreign residents can’t. I’d travel around here in Japan by train, but it’s just too costly.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

When the yen used to be strong, Japanese or resident tourists used to go abroad and spend up big.

The locals in those places couldn't afford to stay in the same kind of hotels or splash out in expensive restaurants. Japanese would often fill out whole tour busses or hotels themselves.

Locals be dammed.

What goes around comes around.

It's wonderful seeing so many tourists, (especially from SE Asia) being able to come and visit a dream country that many have had so much interest in for years.

Through hard work and planning, their countries have been developing, and combined with such a high percentage of people under 30 years old, have been creating sustainable, dynamic societies with young families, businesses and very welcoming tourism sectors.

Their economies are soaring and many more hard working people are able to lift out of poverty and travel for the first time abroud.

Japan is now really, really affordable so they come here. Not really rocket science.

The fact they can enjoy better hotels and restaurants while the locals are priced out sometimes, is not their fault. The hotels and restaurants will take the highest bidders.

Great to be a tourist in Japan atm.

You think there would be more of the lovely and welcoming omotenashi, not a salty soy sauce attitude towards tourists.

Envy is green but so is money.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@Matt

Actually I just got back from long trip in Thailand and Indonesia. I can see from my bills I spent a little bit more there on comparable items in Japan like dining out or rent. This is not just anecdotal. You can see SEA people coming here on shopping spree.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

As for my home country the US - any Japanese telling me that Japan is treating tourists royally because burgers and sandwiches are better value and the tourists know, then that's some ol horseshizz. If you can't eat good burgers and sandwiches with better quality and size in the US, you're going to the wrong places.

I am from the US which is why I’m asking you to list some places. You said better quality that’s bigger and CHEAPER. Obviously there’s bigger and quality burgers but you pay such a premium in the states. Compared to premium burgers in Japan, it might be smaller but the quality is just as great. Stop being vague and let’s compare prices.

@Mr.Goodman

Are you being serious or trying to be funny?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

'Some Japanese are also unhappy about the INVASION (my caps) of big spending tourists thronging stores and clogging up their favorite restaurants'.....with lines like these in an article about tourism in Japan, the writers who apparently are both foreign and Japanese need to be careful about enabling the xenophobic narrative that legal visitors to Japan are 'invading' it.

Pretty sure those two would never write that about the waves of first Japanese and then Chinese tourists that flocked in milions to other countries, the first group notably starting with the Bubble Economy and the second group with the Chinese Economic Miracle. So why the cheap xenophobic shots here? The rest of us thought the Japnese Govt decides who comes into Japan - Mathias Cena and Hiroshi Hiyama need to learn very basic facts before attempting to write articles again.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

You can see SEA people coming here on shopping spree.

They come by ship?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If shops and the government and what not are really liking what's happening here, maybe stop trying to put extra taxes on foreigners, blame them for all sorts of cultural faux pas (while admitting some are also Japanese nationals among them), banning them from taking photos while Japanese overseas take photos of things they are not supposed to, etc.

And this boom is exactly why the BOJ and government don't give a rat's butt about the people living here, who have to pay a whole lot more due to the weak yen and import costs, as well as the constantly rising costs and increases in taxes.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Yes, Japan is cheap.

For the tourist avoiding Tokyo there are bargains out there.

I stayed in a quiet hotel (onsen) with a sea view just 30 seconds from a sandy beach for 4500 yen.

Gourmet dinner for 7000 yen with 5-6 drinks.

That value doesn’t happen in Europe,the US and parts of Asia.

BTW no foreign tourists at all.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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