Here’s a quick rundown of inventions I’ve seen for surviving a Japanese winter:
Everyone’s best friend! A coffee table with a heater mounted on the bottom; you can see the complete set-up above. You tuck that blanket in between two top layers of wood, and then you sit on the floor and tuck your legs underneath and turn the kotatsu on. The heating element shines right down onto your legs, and if you bring the blanket around your back and up to your neck, it warms your whole body. 😀
We have these in the States but everyone has them here. The kids have tons of them, because they can sneak them in class, where they’re not allowed to wear gloves or coats. These aren’t just for hands; the style I’m holding in the picture above has adhesive on one side so you can stick them to the inside of your clothing, and keep the warmth against your body. (popular places are over the upper back, the stomach, or the thighs)
Nabe is a style of cooking; it’s like a Chinese hot pot. Everyone sits around the table where you put a giant pot (usually much bigger than mine) on top of a hot plate. You fill the pot with good stuff: mushrooms, green veggies, noodles, potatoes, tofu, etc, plus fish, beef, oysters, sausage, chicken, etc if you’re not vegetarian. Then your pour a delicious broth on top of it and let it all heat up until it’s boiling, and you let it bubble endlessly throughout the meal. People dip in with a ladle or serving chopsticks to serve one another.
The nabe is nice and hot and generates a good deal of warmth (plus hot soup!), and is also often placed on top of a kotatsu so you can get a double-whammy of heat while you eat. Genius.
Yeah, if I could read kanji I’d’ve bought a wider blanket. I still love this thing, and keep it on all night while I sleep. Some of my friends keep their heaters on all night, which is not only a huge waste of electricity but is unnecessary if you’ve got one of these babies! ❤
Heat tech clothing
(yes, that’s my laundry hanging out to dry)
This stuff is specially designed to trap your body heat. I wear this long underwear under my clothing every single day, and love it. Apparently 75% of Japanese people own some heat tech underwear.
That’s all I’ve got so far, but I know there’s more goodies out there waiting to be discovered. This country is the land of clever inventions and comforting appliances.