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Mon, May 13, 2002 - Page 19 News List

Irish World Cup fans hope spending a little can save a lot of money

BLOOMBERG , DUBLIN

Some Irish soccer fans are hoping that spending 65 euros (US$59) at home will help them save much more when they travel to Japan to watch Ireland play in the World Cup.

For that price, Dublin-based company World Cup Wanderers is offering a four-hour course covering basic Japanese phrases, cultural faux pas and dining tips. Fans, probably paying double the cost of a normal holiday, will learn how to enjoy themselves without overspending, said Luke Carson. He had the idea after returning from working in Japan last year.

Fans run the risk of "coming back with the memory of Japan as where they got into serious debt," Carson said in an interview. "It is an expensive country but if you know what to do and what not to do you can cut your costs dramatically."

The Economist Intelligence Unit's cost of living survey rates Osaka and Tokyo as the world's most expensive cities. They measure 140 on the index, while New York gets 100, London 102 and Paris 95. Those figures reflect the cost of rent and groceries and are based on what it takes for an expatriate family to maintain its lifestyle.

Most supporters will spend at least two weeks in Japan to see Ireland's matches with Cameroon, Germany and Saudi Arabia, giving them plenty of free time, Carson said. He's telling fans to look beyond Irish pubs while avoiding bars which charge for seats.

That amount "includes the cost of a young woman sitting down, talking to you and pouring drinks," he said. "If you walk into one of these places you're going to get hammered on the price."

Food is the other main concern for people that sign up for the course, he said.

"If you're after Japanese food it's not all raw fish, and there are a lot of alternatives more palatable to someone without an adventurous palate," Carson said. "There are also plenty of Western restaurants."

Instead of trying to teach fans Japanese, Carson, with the help of a fellow Irishman and a native Japanese adviser, is highlighting a series of simple sentences and Japanese words derived from English. They're holding the courses at a football club in Dublin for the rest of this month.

The World Cup starts May 31 in co-host South Korea, where defending champion France takes on Senegal in Seoul.

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