How to save time and money raising a kid in Tokyo 2019.07.26
People say there are three kinds of items that every household with a kid should own in Tokyo. They are a drum type washer/dryer, a dish washer, and an electric bicycle that you can carry your kid. I’ve been living in Oakhouse Tachikawa Garden Town in Tachikawa with my wife and baby daughter for a year now but we did not have either three of the items…. well, until last week.
We finally got an electric bike and It has been unbelievably helpful. We definitely should have gotten this earlier. I now understand why people say this is something everyone with kids needs. With this post, let me tell you why these three items are supposed to be necessary for living in Japan as a family.
Saving time with machine efficiency
Everyone agrees with the fact that raising a kid takes time. There are countless tasks to do while taking care of a baby. I used to have much more time for myself but now it almost feels like time goes faster. This is probably not the case if you work like a typical Japanese salaryman and don’t go home until 11 p.m. every night. Fortunately, the company I work for allows me to work remotely and I only go to the office once or twice a week now and I try to help my wife as much as I can.
Working remotely is one of the most effective ways to save time simply because you save time for commuting. This is exactly what I do and this gives me room for doing some housework during the day. After a few months of remote working at home, I noticed that housework can be efficient if I invest in machines. This goes back to the original idea. Three must-have items for a household with a kid.
We do not have a washer/dryer in Tachikawa Garden Town. Oakhouse apartments come with basic appliances including a washing machine which is a good thing but there was no room for us to buy a new washer/dryer for our apartment. We did, however, get a dehumidifier. It saves so much time when we have laundry on rainy days. Hanging wet laundry on the balcony doesn’t help sometimes especially on a rainy season.
We got the dehumidifier by Corona which is mostly known as a heater manufacturer in Japan. I honestly did not know that they make dehumidifier as well but it’s been working very well and we recommend it.
A car can be so much slower than a bike in short distance
What we thought about getting next was the electric bike. At first, I was not really thinking about buying but there’s an episode that changed my mind. One time, my wife and I wanted to go to a local cake shop. It’s a bit far away by walk so we decided to drive there (we do not own a car, we just used a car-sharing service. ) It takes 18 mins by walk. Guess how long it took to get there by car. It actually took us 23 mins to get there! This would have been faster if I own a car and I could just drive from my apartment but for car sharing, we need to walk 5 mins to get to the car-sharing station where the car is parked. Took us an additional 5 mins to set up a baby seat in the car. The traffic and parking took us 6 more mins. The road trip itself took us 7 mins. The electric bike takes 8 mins ( maybe 2 more mins for traffic) to get to the destination. The car beat the bike by speed for sure but it’s such an expensive, time-consuming way of traveling if you consider everything into account.
I was shocked to realize how slow a car can be in short distance traveling. On the next day, I went to the local bike shop and bought an electric bike.
The newest electric bike by Panasonic
There are many models for e-bikes in stores but there are mainly three brands. Panasonic, Bridgestone, and Yamaha. The difference in brands and the general functionality is almost the same.
You can basically choose the brand you like. Just make sure to get the new one, not second-hand. We chose Panasonic’s Gyutto, “ギュット・クルーム・EX” to be exact. It is the newest one in 2019 and it is the flagship model they offer. We did try the bike at Asahi cycle base but we bought one on their online website just because it was much cheaper.
The auto unlock function
There’s “ギュット・クルーム・EX” and “ギュット・クルーム・DX” and the difference between two is the unlocking function. EX has the auto unlock function and DX does not.
This function is basically like a car with “keyless entry“. As long as you have an electric key in the vicinity, all you have to do is to tap the ON button on the control panel and the bike unlocks automatically.
For locking, you need to lock manually by the way (but you do not need to use physical key to lock). Even though locking is basically the same, I thought this auto unlock is very useful. We plan to use this bike for grocery shopping at nearby supermarkets which means we have many bags holding when we unlock the bike. Going through a backpack and look for a key would be a nightmare. I thought this unlocking function is genius because you can basically forget about the physical keys as long as the electric key is in the bag. Unlocking takes place every time we use the bike and we plan to use the bike for a long term. I thought this actually saves a lot of time and effort down the road.
Biking helps you save money
We’re very happy with the electric bike we bought and it definitely help us a lot move around Tachikawa. Just yesterday, we went to the other side of Showa Kinen Park for fireworks and that was unreachable by buss or car. The bike allows us to go to affordable supermarkets that we could not go by walk. The bike itself was expensive but I do think the value it brings is huge and it definitely is worth the money.
Hi I'm Shima. I currently live in one of the biggest Oakhouse Apartments called Tachikawa Garden Town with my wife and daughter.
On this series of blog posts, I’d like to introduce useful tips when you actually start living in Tokyo and hopefully in Oakhouse.
Let me know if you are interested to know more about life in Tachikawa. Message me here [ firstname.lastname@example.org ] for any questions.