I've lived in Japan for almost two years now. While most people think it's expensive to live here, following a relatively Japanese-style way of life helps one save money - smaller apartments means lower rent (as does living farther from the station), taking the train means savings on vehicle costs (gas, maintenance, insurance, etc), and eating Japanese food lowers my meal budget. Sure, I enjoy American food fairly frequently, but eating rice dishes makes things more manageable.
However, my love of baseball has an adverse effect on my wallet.
You see, Japanese souvenirs are usually more expensive.
Trading cards start at 30 yen - about 30 cents - (50 yen at most stores), and the cheapest hits (plain relics of lower players) are usually 1000 yen ($10) or more. And the trinkets and other NPB merchandise can cost a pretty penny too.
So, what's inside?
Many smaller player-based souvenirs are sold at stadiums, such as figurines, pins and buttons, and miniature baseball helmets. And most of them cost 200-300 yen. So I generally pick one or two unique ones and see which player I get.
By the way, this year for Halloween I was a Hanshin Tigers baseball player - my students said I looked like Randy Bass. I don't know about that, but my secondhand jersey ran about 2000 yen ($20) at a thrift shop, while my new cap cost around $27. The cheapest new caps go for 2000 yen or so, far more expensive than the $5 snap-back caps you can find of MLB teams at Target or WalMart in the States. Even simple, small things like erasers and keychains start at $4-5 sometimes!
Of course, this carries over to other licensed merchandise as well - souvenirs for local tourist destinations, character toys and other goods carry a big premium here! At the same time, the quality of most goods is much better than what you'd find in America. Gift giving is an important part of Japanese culture - after holidays, our office is full of omiyage (souvenir foods) from our trips, and when someone takes a day off they usually bring a gift as well. We've had a lot of gifts this week just because one of our teachers is leaving.
Being a bit of a cheapskate, I try to find my stuff at the elusive thrift shops or pick the lowest-priced souvenir when picking up something for myself.
Have you ever spent "too much" on a souvenir? Do you collect sets of souvenirs like these?