Our new refrigerator arrived today and looks pretty much the same as the old one on the outside (if you're not paying close attention). We purchased it from Yodobashi in Shinjuku because it was close to where my husband works and not significantly more expensive than going to Akihabara. This model cost about $500.
One thing we might have done to save money if we were inclined to go to the trouble was to go and search for a shop that was selling "last year's model" of the same refrigerator for between $100-$120 less than this year's model. If you're in the market for a major purchase and you can either wait until shortly after a new model comes out or search for older models on-line (at places like Rakuten, for instance), you can often score a discount. At least two of my students have mentioned saving money on large purchases by going for last years model. One student bought a car and the other a large, flat screen T.V. for tidy discounts.
In our case, we valued expediency (and our free time and energy) over a little money so we took the path of least resistance. As far as I can tell, the only difference between last year's model and our model is that ours has a lever to tip ice cube trays over while inside the refrigerator rather than having to take them out and crack them open. This feature works very well but it wasn't a factor in our decision to buy a new model.
One thing we did notice when the delivery was made though was that Yodobashi's delivery people seem to be less service-oriented than the shop we bought our old refrigerator from in Akihabara. When they arrived, they clucked their tongues about not being able to remove the old refrigerator from the tight space. Since I've moved that refrigerator in and out of that space and I'm a woman with a bad back, I thought they were being big babies.
When they finally tried it, they removed it rather easily. When they put the old one in, we asked them to put squares of wood under the feet so as not to dig ruts into the linoleum (because this is what the landlords want done) but they refused to do it claiming it wasn't possible. While I'll admit it would not have been easy, it could have been done but we let it go.
The delivery men were about to run off before the refrigerator was even plugged in but they thought better of it when they came back to get the blanket they used to move the refrigerator across the middle of the floor without scuffing it up and they saw me struggling to do it. After they left, I noticed they managed to scuff up the floor in front of the refrigerator regardless of the blanket. Since the floor is new, I wasn't too pleased about this but I guess it's more of the landlord's problem than ours.
Empty Coke bottles allow us to filter our own water and then chill it rather than fork over money for bottled water.
On the bright side, they did everything in about 10-15 minutes and were out of our hair so I could load up the fridge with our food. They were good enough to call 15 minutes before they arrived so I was able to remove it all shortly before they came. Since this is a 2-door refrigerator and our old one was 3 doors, I had to do some rearranging and it wasn't easy. I never liked the big drawer in the bottom of the old fridge so, I like this layout better. I especially like the crisper being smaller and making it easier to keep vegetables and fruit in a tidy space rather than chucking them into a cavernous drawer the size of the entire bottom of the refrigerator.
Every jar on the second shelf but one (sesame oil) contains a spice. You can tell I cook a lot...or am too lazy to throw out old spices. ;-) If you don't want your spices to cake up into a block in summer, you have to keep them refrigerated. The foil packet is yeast.
I also like having another shelf at the bottom and a wider shelf in the middle. The old one had relatively narrow shelves which accommodated milk cartons but were not wide enough for 1.5 liter bottles of soda. This one clearly has a shelf designed for larger soda bottles but they are too loose for milk. The cartons tend to shift around when the door is opened and closed.
One thing I don't understand about the design though is why the old refrigerator had 16 slots to hold eggs and this new one has 6 when these machines are designed specifically for the Japanese market where eggs are sold in 10-packs for the most part. That isn't even a proper egg tray though. It's just a little piece of plastic with 6 holes in it that you can remove if you like.
Those are Krispy Kreme donuts on the second shelf on the right. They're waiting for a moment of indiscretion followed by a quick trip to the microwave.
The freezer is actually somewhat better than the old one and seems no smaller (we lost size mainly in the refrigerator section). Our old freezer was essentially one shelf and one little boxed area next to the ice cube tray. Having only one shelf forced us to cram packages of plastic-covered food in there on top of each other in a relatively large area. Things were very slippery and one wrong pull often sent several (usually heavy) items plummeting onto the feet of the person routing around in there. This freezer has one more division so things are separated out a bit better. Hopefully, there will be fewer crushed toes in the future.
I'm hoping this new refrigerator will be less wasteful energy-wise than the old one since it was produced with energy saving in mind for environmental issues. I'd still have preferred a taller, bigger one but you have to go with what fits in the space you have.