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It gets cold in a Japanese house

Japanese houses don’t have central heating and air, as many Japan blogs have been noting recently (here’s Amy Nakazawa’s take from last year; it’s nice and thorough). Today, Simon points to an article by Amy Chavez about how gaijin can survive this:

The first thing you’ll need is a wall-mounted heater and air conditioner, which the Japanese refer to as “aircon.” This will keep the average person warm enough, but not the average gaijin. Therefore, supplement the “aircon” with a “kotatsu,” a small table with a heat lamp under it, to keep your legs warm. If you turn up the kotatsu high enough, it’s almost like sitting around a bonfire. You’ll find that almost all of your body is warm now, except your fingers. Therefore, sit on your hands. Now don’t move until springtime.

Read the whole thing; the ending is funny (and scary).

I haven’t actually experienced much of a Japanese winter. Our honeymoon took place in March, and when we were in Kyoto it snowed (boy was that neat).

snowy shopping street near Kiyomizu-dera

However, our ryokans were warm and cozy for the most part. In the ryokan on Miyajima, which was the coldest, we had a heating mat under our futon. The bathroom was freezing in the morning.

As my experience is limited, I’ve never had the opportunity to try a kotatsu, though I’ve always wanted to. I imagine that if Sean and I ever move to Japan for any length of time, he’ll spend the winter sitting at the kotatsu with his computer.