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Why are Prices in Japan so Damn High

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Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
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That website is a CLASSIC! I think Robert Murphy's site has been online since the 1990s. If my memory doesn't fail me it was initially hosted on Geocities. In those days, we gave away "Site of the Month" awards. Japan FAQ made it in November 2002.


Until June 2002 we used the japanreference.com domain.

Anyhow, it's good to see that Robert keeps his page updated.


23 Dec 2010
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Well gasoline is, that's for sure. But for seasoned fruits and vegetables, at least where I'm at, fairly reasonable prices.
Here's a nice read for you.

I'd call that site seriously out of date. Note that the copyright notice at the end goes up to 2002.

Seventeen years ago? Bush was in his first term, and the US had hardly even responded to 9/11, let alone invading Iraq.

Not even 2012, or 2017.

The writer's strategy seems to be to grab a few bits with some grains of truth (out of the '90s), add some hyperbole, then use that mixture to paint japan with as broad a brush as possible. And then keep it up and posted on the web for people to stumble across a couple decades later.

What a hoot!


4 Sep 2015
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Actually he has a lot on his site.
does have a lot of stuff to read


Quietly exploding
27 Nov 2012
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Japan fruits and veg are regulated by JA, which distributes and prices their goods. In Japan’s system, farm sizes are regulated, so there’s no America-style mega-farms. It keeps them family size. These days, it’s an issue as young people don’t want to be farmers, so who will continue to run these family-size farms?..but thats another topic.

The cost of domestic vegetables is still shocking to me. I live in the home of the Japanese potato, Hokkaido, and five tiny potatoes in a sealed bag is ¥200. In Canada, five kilo of domestic potatoes is about ¥500, somewhat cheaper than Japan’s staple food, rice. In the US, the government pays farmers to grow stuff (such utter socialism, btw, exclusive handouts to red states), I don’t exactly know why Canada has such cheap vegetables, but I know that Japan makes everyone pay per vegetable.

If you ever go to a Western Japanese restaurant, you’ll totally see it as in, for example; Tony Roma’s serves its ribs on a bed of fries... in the menu photos, but the plates come with a sushi-rice style measured handful of fries in reality.

I can’t say what’s worse, subsidizing with tax dollars, or having ridiculous costs. I made hamburgers at home yesterday for ¥500 (meat and buns, condiments already in the kitchen). I made stir-fry today for ¥1000 (meat, yellow pepper, onion, and asparagus). The stir-fry was way healthier, but I have to pay out of pocket for it. This means I’m more likely to eat unhealthy any time I’m cooking. I kind of wish I didn’t have to pay a premium for vegetables,
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