Bartering in Japan

This is probably my last post about Japan, at least for the time being.
I write this from Hong Kong, and it’s all sweaty down here!

I’ve lived in Japan for 2 years now – granted Nagoya being a little bit boring and sheltered. And I speak the language more than enough to understand daily conversation. Yet on my last night in Tokyo, i had a first – bartering.
I was looking for a place to drink with 3 friends around Shinjuku, and being a weekday, there were touts about trying to lure you into their izakaya. They had their drink menus out and everything. Next thing I know, my friend says – mmm, it’s a weekday so please lower your price. And amazingly enough the guy did! In the end he brought the price for the 2 hour all-you-can-drink (nomihodai) down from 1800 yen to 1000 yen. However, we walked away and soon enough another guy came and offered us the nomihodai for 1000 off the bat (mentioning that usually it’s x much and it’s a special price for us).
Seems that these touts can bring the price down no lower than 1000 yen. And seeing as most sensible people only drink 2 drinks it pretty much evens out when going to a normal bar. Except that izakaya’s will have a small table charge and undoubtably get their money back on food.

I’ve never bartered in Japan for anything else before, so maybe there is more potential that I’ve yet to discover. But for the mean time, today’s lesson is – on weekdays, barter nomihodai down to 1000 yen without offending anyone.

In the end we opted for a 270 yen place (all food & drinks at 270 a piece) which had this funky little gismo – i’ve used one before once at a yakiniku (BBQ meat) place. It’s like an order touch screen. It’s pretty advanced, even for standard Japanese izakaya’s with their pingpong button (the call-for-service button).

I also watched an interesting movie on the plane yesterday (from my laptop) called ‘the great happiness space’, (with English subs) about a host club in Osaka – basically boys who get paid to hang out with girls. I thought it provided a really interesting insight into a world not well known even by Japanese. I’d recommend it!

On a slightly sadder note – today was the 49th day since the tsunami, an important day in the buddhist mourning ceremony. As of this point, I believe many people who have been missing will slowly be considered dead. A school in Ishinomaki, where I volunteered, had a ceremony for its victims – about 70% of students were killed and of the 13 members of staff (and a few other administrative people), 9 were killed and 1 is still missing.

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