Shinkansen Tsuukin (Commuting by the Bullet Train) has been a word of envy or of curiosity in Japanese business society. Most Shinkansen commuters choose to do that because of some family reasons for not being able to live near their workplace. Applying for Shinkansen commuting allowance to their employer is generally a hard negotiation, since it is very costly for the company. Applicant needs a certain justification with inevitable reasons. It has not been an everyone's choice.
When you start Shinkansen commuting, you must get accustomed to that environmental change. However, you will shortly understand that 70 minutes (one-way to Tokyo) boarding on Shinkansen is not like usual commuting experience as what you have in local commuting train. You can basically have a seat in non-reserved cars during commuting time, and you can work on your laptop PC if you like. For new-type E7 and W7 Shinkansen cars, you can find 100V AC power outlet for each seat for all classes. For progressive businesspersons, Shinkansen commuting time can be transformed to time of productivity.
On the other hand, you must well consider the economics of Shinkansen commuting. Price of 3-month passenger pass between Karuizawa and Tokyo is 356,450 Japanese Yen (125,060 yen for 1-month pass). Under current Japanese national tax law, a company can deduct up to 100,000 yen per month per employer as a monthly commuting cost from the company's taxable income. So, theoretically, you can negotiate up to 100,000 yen as a monthly allowance. At least, amount exceeding 100,000 yen will be your own cost. As most companies set a rule for upper limit of monthly commuting allowance, how much you can negotiate depends on your relations and power balance with your company.
As I wrote in my previous article, the number of Shinkansen commuters in Karuizawa is growing. Many progressive Tokyo workers have started to choose Karuizawa life after studying its costs and benefits. It may become your agenda in this year-end season to plan your future lifestyles.
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