There are all sorts of deals to be had when renting videos and DVDs. There are special rates on special days of the month and the three big stores (Big Ben, Ishimaru, and Tsutaya) all offer extended borrowing periods if you rent more than three videos. Have a look at the graph to see a price comparison and read below for more detailed information. (The best prices in each category are highlighted in white.)
Sakura. Movies are half price on the 2nd and 4th (and sometimes 5th) Wednesdays of the month. This store has a very large selection of both old and new movies. As you can see in the chart, it has good prices for old videos (one night rental) especially. You either have to live in the Sakura area, or you have to have a car for this store to be convenient.
Denki Town. The tiny little DVD rental store has closed and a new one has opened up about 50 metres from the old one. It used to be that this store was cheap but its collection was so small that you often couldn't find what you wanted. Now, however, the collection has been increased substantially (although it still only offers DVDs). During the somewhat undefined "fair" period, all older DVDs are 100 or 200 yen. You can see in the chart that Ishimaru has the best prices in almost all categories. If you have a DVD player (and a car), this may be the best shop to use.
Denki Town. On the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month, Tsutaya (near Jusco in Tsukuba Center) offers new movies at 300 yen and older ones at half price. The current Tsutaya will close on July 9th and a new store will open in the "Denki Town" area of Tsukuba (where all the Ishimaru stores are) on July 12. They will add a book section and probably also increase their DVD selection.
On the east side of the Tsukuba University campus near El Torito. This store is pretty small, but it's very close to the Tsukuba campus, so many people use it. It has a special discount system that sounds a bit complicated, but I have been assured that it makes sense once you've tried it out. All OLD videos are 100 yen on the days that end with the same number as the month (in July, that would be the 7th, 17th, and 27th). You get the videos for 7 days in January, February, March, November and December, and for 3 days in the other months. Then, seven days after those days (eg. 14th, 24th, and ??), you can rent NEW videos for half price for 3 days. In certain months, this creates a perfect cycle so you can rent old videos for one week, then when you return them you can rent new videos for three days, then when you return them you can rent old videos again, etc. Neat, eh?
Thanks to Ashwin, Chin-Tan, Efren, Farshid, Jirka, A. Sundaresan, Takayuki, Tomomi, and Yilmaz for information about the various stores and discount plans.
Cineplex (in Tsukuba You World on Route 354 at the southern part of the city) has various deals so you should never have to pay full price (1800 yen) if you play your cards right. Late shows (starting after 9pm) are 1200 yen. On the first day of every month, you can see shows for 1000 yen, and if you are a woman, you can see 1000 yen shows every Wednesday too. University students and high school students can get in for 1500 yen as long as they show their student card. JHS and elementary school kids are always 1000 yen. Seniors (above 60 years of age) get in for 1000 yen, and children below 3 get the "amazing" price of 900 yen. Note that almost all discounts are invalid for sneak preview shows (usually shown on a Saturday, one week before the show opens) and premiers.
By the way, Cineplex is celebrating its 3rd anniversary from June 21st to July 18th by doubling the points you can get on their point card. Also, movies will be 1000 yen on July 8th, the actual anniversary.
You can find a weekly Schedule on the Joyo Living website http://www.joyoliving.co.jp/movie/. This and all other websites mentioned in this section are all in Japanese, but you might be able to read enough to figure out what is showing if you know a few katakana characters.
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