NHK 7AM this morning: Offer coupons at Narita Airport to NJ with “preferential exchange rates”. The catch is…


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Hi Blog.  Related to my post last Saturday talking about how things were becoming cheaper in a deflationary Japanese economy:

Something came on NHK News this morning at 7AM that nearly induced reverse peristalsis on my corn flakes due to excessive laughter.  Deep breath:

The exchange rate this morning was 81 yen and change to the dollar.  The (well-grounded) complaint is that this is discouraging tourism to Japan and purchases from NJ tourists, due to things being make more expensive upon exchange.

So NHK was breathlessly reporting (live) from Narita Airport this morning how authorities had come up with a great wheeze to stimulate spending!

Ready for it?


Meaning that if you hold one of these coupons (they provided a graphic with a big-nosed (of course) gaijin clutching this precious slip of paper), you would get a discount on your exchange from dollars (or whatever) into yen.

And that preferential rate would be?

Ready for it?

(Rips the Post-It off the graphic…)

30 SEN!!

Yes, 0.3 OF A YEN discount off your yen exchange rate!!

They even conveniently calculated with a couple more graphic Post-Its how much you would save.  Tourists, if they could see beyond their proboscis to spending some 2300 USD or so, the amount saved would be…

Ready for it?

(Rips the Post-It off the graphic…)


My god, I’m surprised people aren’t lining up!  The main NHK announcers also found this decidedly uncooworthy.

They also gave a rupo afterwards (with some token NJ tourists praising Japanese food) at a Narita cafeteria that was also taking drastic (and I mean DRASTIC!) measures to encourage consumption of their meals, by dropping some prices a few hundred yen.  Some fried chicken had been reduced from 700 to 500 yen!  (Albeit this price was arguably overpriced in the first place; a captive-market airport economy tends to do that.)  We had some grateful NJ tourists praising the move, and closeups of one slurping noodles with a big grin.

For all the money they saved from the preferential coupons (provided they carry a few thousand dollars in cash on them during their stay), they could get one free entree from this cafeteria AND a can of Coke from a vending machine — and still have a few yen change!!  Roll up!  Roll up!

File under cluelessness.

Seacrest Out!

18 comments on “NHK 7AM this morning: Offer coupons at Narita Airport to NJ with “preferential exchange rates”. The catch is…

  • GASP! We have to go NOW! Such a great deal! I’m gonna call all my friends and tell them all about it! I’m hyperventilating right now! Its hard to type this message because my hands are shaking with excitement! /sarcasm

    Dang, who do you think would really find that useful(except for the already shown tourists)?

    — Er, NHK, who has to fill airtime with something?

  • Actually the audience was more captive than a Narita audience; they were mostly delegates of the COP10 conference and that canteen was, as I understood it, at the conference venue.

    — Thanks for the update. So this is even more yarase-ppoi than I thought!

  • I’ve always thought it was bemusing that discounts offered by Japanese companies tend to be so small, 3% here, 5% there… in the UK, you would be hard pressed to attract the slightest promo-induced glance from a customer unless you are offering 30% off, bare minimum!

    — Yes. Some banks and postal authorities are proclaiming that their 10-year fixed savings accounts will give you a whole fraction of a percent extra!! Roll up!

  • I realised long ago-through attempting to teach negotiation skills- that some Japanese just arent good at giving discounts. And when they do, it isnt for any tactical reason, e.g. for a larger order, for repeat business, or for cash up front.

    I think a traditional Japanese “negotiation” is to basically keep pushing and pushing until the other side caves in-concessions are a sign of weakness? They ve made up their mind about what they want and they just pursue it, until they (hopefully) get it. Prices are what they are, take it or …please take it. Have you changed your mind to take it yet?

    I ll never forget the seminar with the senior salesman at a company who, after a year of courses, had the following bargaining style.

    Him:”This retails for 15, 000 yen.
    Me: ” Can you make it a little cheaper?”
    Him: “OK, 3,000 yen”
    Me: “So you were trying to rip me off in the first place?”

    Said company went out of business a year later due to poor sales.

  • Isn’t that Narita is desperate not to lose customers to Haneda
    (now that Haneda just became an international airport) ?
    Maybe this is only the first one of these fabulous initiatives. =)
    I’m looking forward to see what they will do next….

  • Would be great to see the big-nosed gaijin image on the coupon.

    I collect those. Images of big-nosed gaijins, not coupons.

    (Off topic: the best one in my collection I got from a bank where a blondie was robbing the poor Japanese)

    As for the rate, coupons and food report: I’ve always seen this as propaganda to Japanese rather than the target group of big-nosed tourists. In this case it seems both like 1) “We do this, and still they don’t come. It’s probably due to Japan bashing or racism” and 2) Japanese food is superior. …What other reason might there be for including that segment there?

    Lastly, to build on the idea that the programs are more geared towards Japanese than the big-noses: ask anyone abroad if they have ever heard of “Yokoso! Japan” or whatever the next/newest slogan is. Then ask locals here.

  • This reminds me of an advertisement I recently saw at a Department Store, which went something like this:

    Staff Wanted for In-store Restaurant

    Hourly Wage: 740yen*

    * An extra BONUSSS!!!!!111!!! is offered for working on National Holidays of an extra 10 yen!!!! per hour!
    Contact the manager for details!

    So, give up a precious day of holiday with your family, and earn a whopping extra 80 yen for a full days shift, minus taxes.

  • Another John says:

    Opens up the larger question of “Just what is a discount in Japan, anyway?”
    Anyone living here for more than 6 months sees this from time to time. I remember reading a JP newspaper in Kansai a few years back when an advertisement flyer fluttered out. Glancing at that, I saw, “BUY NOW! Save 1 – 2%!!!”, with examples of “THIS ITEM, PREVIOUSLY PRICED AT Y9,800, NOW GOES FOR THE LOW, LOW PRICE OF Y9,600!! HURRY!! OFFER GOOD WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!!” And housewives from Kobe to Kyoto lined up…
    Discounts here are not part of the consumer DNA. Save 5 yen on yogurt; 10 yen on a pair of shoes, 3 yen on McD’s french fries. After a hard day’s shopping, I nearly saved bus fare (if someone would lend me another Y200).
    There are places, here and there, where you can do some good old-fashioned hard-nosed bargaining and knock a good 20-30% off a price, but they’re not nearly as plentiful as they were in years past.
    If I’m gonna roll anything, Debito, it’s my eyes.

  • Anyway who uses cash exchange service anymore? It is so much easier and cheaper to pay by credit card or go pick up some cash with debit/credit card at the ATM. Even in China I have been able to use my foreign credit card.

  • If I was in charge of the tourism board here in Japan, I would rather focus on these issues:
    – encourage a better acceptance of foreign credit cards
    – hire private consultants to produce multilingual quality documentation
    – work with local hospitality industries in order to bring them to global standards (central reservation systems, multi-lingual documentation, “stars” certification system backed-up by an independent institution, etc…).

    I would encourage tourism officials to visit some touristic countries and study their strategies for bringing foreign tourists and make them come back (for example France, with 80 million tourists a year). It seems to me that the whole strategy of the Japanese tourism board is to focus on cosmetic changes rather than thinking of structural reorganization of the whole tourism industry.

  • Back in the 80s, Akihabara was of course the place where you could get fairly meaningful discounts on price through negotiations, but come the 90s a guy who worked there told me that prices are already low, so its not so possible to bargain anymore. I dont know as I havent tried it recently, do tourists still negotiate or are the prices “low enough already”?

    You can always try your luck by feigning ignorance. This guy who’d just come from Thailand who was used to haggling went into a Shinjuku department store and badgered the assistants to give him a lower price on something quite pricey. He brushed off their objections of “we (Japanese) dont do that here” and actually finally did get quite a good discount!

    Maybe his fresh perspective paid off and he saw through the apparent ruse of over-pricing that us long termers have perhaps got too used to.

  • Can I pay my NHK fee with these coupons?

    — At 0.3% discount, you’d have to collect more than 300 of them before you’d reach 100%.

  • By encouraging people to buy _more_ yen, wouldn’t that make the yen stronger still, thus exacerbating the problem?

    Better to give them those tickets when they come back to the airport, and encourage them to sell their yen back for dollars or euros or whatever, rather than hold on to them as an investment.


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