Ketchi is Japanese for stingy. There is also another word "setsuyaku" which means "economical". Setsuyaku seems to be the catch phrase at the moment in Japan, as more and more people are making an effort to be economical, but I think many people seem to be bordering on being a little too ketchi.
When I worked at a junior high school, it always used to amaze me how often the school would find ways to part me from my hard earned money. Perhaps some other teacher got married, had a relative die, built a new house. This would mean that I (who probably rarely even spoke to the person) had to shell out between 3,000- to 20,000 yen depending on the occasion - even if I secretly despised the person.
Then there was my compulsory 4000 yen monthly membership to the schools teachers' club. This money was used to fund our tea and coffee supplies, drinking parties and monetary gifts as mentioned above in addition to our personal gifts. Along with the 350 yen PTA membership fee!! Oh and there was also the Gakunen club. Each teacher belonged to a gakunen (grade) and taught the students in that grade. I belonged to the 2nd grade and every month I paid 3,000 yen to the 2nd grade teachers' club fund, for our own drinking parties, monetary gifts for people who got married or what not who belonged to our grade and for our end of year "bonding trip".
Don't even get me started on the coffee club! ARGH!!
What also surprised me was how the other teachers thought this was completely "atarimae", or acceptable/normal practice. I don't work there anymore but I wonder if they have toned down their money wasting activities in the financial crisis.
My poor husband was most annoyed by this as it was completely foreign to him. He is not a teacher and works at a publicly owned company.
The financial crisis is even going to affect the government employees as they have to take a hit on their bonus (I'm not sure why they get a bonus at all as they don't seem to contribute to the profitability of anything!) , as the government seems to want them to feel the pain that the rest of us are all feeling.
In response to the tougher economic conditions that are seeing people losing their jobs or having to take cuts in their pay, housewives are going into "economic mode". Some housewives have always done this but now that many are seeing a 20% drop in their husbands' incomes they are reacting very quickly to make sure that no money is wasted. This means shopping for bargains, buying cheaper food (like mung beans - 20yen for a bag instead of broccoli 198 yen a head).
Cutting down on their hobbies (like my expensive flower arranging course), which is affecting the industry I work in - English conversation schools. Children's English classes are perhaps the least affected as parents still wish for Junior to become a "Native English Speaker", this puts a lot of pressure on us teachers to get results, that I must say are often impossible. The TV is constantly showing us housewives how to reduce our food costs, energy costs and what not. I think this is great, but when we all get too carried away with being economical, isn't that A) going to make the whole problem worse and B) make life just that little bit less nice? You might be wondering why these housewives don't just go out and get a job. Well thanks to a serious lack of day care options that is almost impossible for many women. If they can find a spot in day care for their child, then they need to be able to get a job that pays enough to make it worth while. Jobs for women returning to the work force after having children tend to be underpaid and contract or part time.
As for my own economical measures, I have been going to the hair dresser less regularly, my husband and I are living with only one car instead of the required two that most people have where I live, riding my bike to the supermarket when possible, shopping at the Don Quixote Mega Mart - but only when I am on the way home from flower arranging class so as not to waste petrol, we now go to the library every 2 weeks instead of buying books from Amazon and only have lunch out once every other weekend or so. Is that too ketchi?
Some ueber ketchi housewives I have seen on telly, refuse to buy anything that is not already marked down in the supermarket! eek!
If we are all too ketchi, won't it come and bite us on the proverbial bottom by further job losses and pay cuts? For this reason, the Japanese government has given a cash pay out to every person who was living in Japan on the 1st of Feb (?) (not us we hadn't moved back yet) to help the economy go round. Today I saw an advertisement on telly reminding us to spend the money rather than save it!
So if you are affected by the financial crisis, what are you all doing to be more economical?