I'm having fun in Las Vegas, getting plenty of relaxing time in by the pool as I slowly recover from having three major conventions in one month. I just love being able to send out our little J-List updates no matter where I am in the world -- this Internet thing is great.
Is Japan an expensive country? It's a difficult question to answer. While Tokyo is famous for its $50 melons -- which are actually sold in gift boxes to give to others on special occasions, not just eaten by average families -- it's difficult to say whether or not the cost of living in Japan is high or not. When I first arrived in Japan I carefully checked the prices I was paying at supermarkets, making a concerted effort to catalogue the various stores around me so I could figure out the best places to shop. It wasn't always easy comparing Japan to my home country, however. Often I felt the prices I was paying to be high, like $15 for a bottle of shampoo, but then I realized that the bottle was much larger than the $6 bottles I had been buying back home. A loaf of bread or a container of milk costs about the same in Japan as in San Diego, but the unit sizes are smaller -- bread in Japan is sold in half-loaves, because a full loaf would go stale before it could be eaten. One interesting feature of Japan is the near total lack of inflation, and only a few products cost more now than they did when I arrived in Japan in 1991, such as when Coca-Cola went from 100 to 120 yen per can. This isn't true of the U.S., of course, and going back home once a year or so enables me to see how prices crawl upward, something that almost never happens in Japan.