Kobe University, the campus

About 70% to 80% of Japan is forested and mountainous which is probably why the architects decided to stick a University on the side of a mountain, literally. The city of Kobe lies to the north of Osaka bay and is a main port town, and just to the north of Kobe are the Rokko mountains. It is these mountains which I climb every day to go to school. I have been here for about 2 months already, and as I look back upon my days at the UW I long for the wonderful flatness of the campus and its ease on the legs. However walking is not one’s only option, there is a bus that travels up the mountain for a fixed price of 200 yen, but since I’m somewhat of a “kechi” or stingy person, I enjoy the hike up as long as I save my 200 yen everyday. There is one positive aspect of the University’s location, once you reach the top the view of Kobe is magnificent, and there are many locations on campus where you can sit down to eat lunch while soaking in the vast landscape.

As long as I’m talking about money-saving, I will delve further into this topic which is of great interest to many foreigners living in country with quite a high standard of living. Especially now with the appreciation of the dollar to the yen, I am literally losing money just by letting my U.S. sit in a bank in the U.S. But current exchange rates are besides the point, what I’m basically trying to say is that Japan is really really expensive in my opinion (yes the two “really’s” are really necessary). Some examples:

-Train ticket everyday= 140 yen x 2 ways = 280 yen = $2.50

-Bus ride= 200 yen x 2 ways = 400 yen = $3.58

-Lunch= about 500 yen = $4.47

-TOTAL: $10.55

So that comes to… $10.55 U.S. dollars per day, 5 days a week, 4 weeks a month comes to $211 per month. So after living like this for a couple weeks I noticed that I was spending quite a bit of money, and keep in mind this is only commuting and lunch, it doesn’t include groceries, and the occasional going out/ shopping etc…

After looking at numbers I made a few adjustments, first I purchased a commuter pass for 3 months which gives a slight discount on the train, second I only take the bus one way (going up obviously) thereby cutting bus expense in half, and third I bring my own lunch. The conclusion: my daily expense is down to 200 yen, or $1.79, YAY! plus lunch, but it’s so cheap at the local frozen foods store.

Additionally, for anyone looking into studying in Japan in the near future, this whole “spending money thing” may become a problem for you as well, so check out this cool website about how to save money in Japan: http://frugaljapan.com/