Monday, January 18, 2010

Keeping Warm Japanese Style

Lately it has been cold here and last week it snowed. Now, as I Canadian I know that the cold in Fukuoka is nothing like we get back home but for those who don't know there is no central heat in most homes in Japan. That means when you go to the bathroom or go to take a bath you might as well be outside and that is a kind of cold I never experienced in Canada in my house.
So, I thought I would show some pictures of what people here use to keep warm.
For sleeping, people wear an unbelievable amount of clothes to bed. I mean I'm talking about pajamas and then a kind of padded/quilted bed coat socks and more. And here some other things people use to keep warm while sleeping.

While sitting in the living room and for eating the "kotatsu" (electric table) is popular. Personally I hate these as I see them as dust traps (Japan is incredibly dusty-you could dust your house everyday and still find lots of dust!) and your lower half will be warm/hot but the rest of you will be cold-at least that has been my experience. The kotatsu has a heater beneath the table and the hard table top comes put a special blanket on it and then replace the table top on top of the blanket and you sit covered up by the blanket which traps the heat so it can get pretty toasty in there. Even people who like them says they make you lazy because it is so toasty under it and the room is usually very cold so you never want to leave it!

Also, cold feet are problem here so here are some pictures of feet warmers.

Wherever you are, I hope you are warm!!


allingoodfood42 said...

Thanks for this post. I've see other blogs and the such talk about the problem with keeping war ing the homes there but I like your approach. A few years ago I was thinking about moving to Japan too and did a lot of research on it and was not happy about the heating situation. I'm from Michigan and I'm glad to get the perspective and a Canadian who understands the cold issue. Loved your post.

FromJapanWithLove said...

Thanks! When I first moved here I wore just a little sweater outside because outside was nothing compared to outside in Canada but I was FROZEN inside my house and that was really really hard to get used to. It is hard to sleep if you are cold! I'm mostly used to it now but there are days when it gets to me a bit.

Pili said...

That's something I don't get at all... why so many gizmos instead of regular central heating??

hjmart said...

Very interesting article! Love this blog too! So many interesting things to learn! About heating: how about portable heaters? They warm the room pretty nicely and can be moved to different locations. And they are very inexpensive alternative to central heating.

さらまり said...

I totally agree with you. While MN is much colder than most of Japan, I am always much colder there in winter. Not only is there the central heat thing, its also all the walking instead of driving. Going to the toilet room is the worst >< Are there any things to keep warm in there?

FromJapanWithLove said...

There are many reasons why they don't have central heat and expense is one of costs us about $150 per month to heat our 4 room apartment (if I figured it out right it is about 32 tatami or 569 square feet) in the winter-that is only for heating just over 1/2 the apartment....we don't use a heater in the bedroom or bathroom areas. It also costs us about $200 per month in the summer to use air conditioning. Electricity is expensive. Part of the problem is how they build houses. We have no insulation in our walls and the air that gets in from poorly sealed windows etc is amazing.

Yes, portable heaters are popular but the cheapest and most popular are kerosene heaters which i refuse to use. I use a portable heater in my upstairs office and we use an air conditioner unit, which is also a heater, in the living room and that unit is our main heater for our upstairs apartment.

About the bathrooms - there are small portable heaters that people buy for bathrooms and there are heated toilet seats. It is sad but old people die in bathrooms in the winter...I think the cold is too much to take.

I do know that I have had friends who could see their breath in their kitchens in the early morning during winter. Strange but true!!

Anonymous said...

where DO you get your informations about Japanese people wearing an unbelievable amount of clothing in the bed?! Those adverts may look like that but they are just adverts!!! Maybe you influenced by adverts and TV too much but the most people I know wear just the pajamas. The padded 'coat' is for house wear not bed wear! Central heating may feel best but that is the why American people use 25% of the worlds energies. Maybe some of those advert goods are used by the old people but maybe they are not used so much by the any people. None of many friends or family use.

Anonymous said...

I used to work in the construction industry in Japan and looks like you are comparing middle-class family houses in North America with a lower grade of construction unit in Japan, particularly base standard or old apartment buildings, which just as you stated don't have much in the way of insulation. But compare with the same grade unit, example a modern apartment or middle class house, and you'll find insulation top and bottom, often with under floor heating, circulatory fans in the crawl space below the house and in the attic space above the house and all manner of features to heat and cool the residence.

FromJapanWithLove said...

I get my information first hand. Of course everyone is different but when I have stayed at people's homes I have seen it-all the pajamas and bed coats etc. I remember being shocked by it. My students also tell me about these things. Of course I can't speak for everyone in Japan.

And many middle class homes that I have been in also have no insulation as the people have complained about the very same things I do. I do believe that many new homes will have insulation but that is still a lot of homes without it. And again, having lived here for almost 12 years, I have yet to see a house like have mentioned with heated floors etc. Of course I'm sure they do exist but I doubt they are the norm yet. And yes, I'm talking about middle class homes.

About The Institute said...

Oh my god, I have GOT to have most of the products on this list!! Thanks for the great post!

Anonymous said...

Hi FromJapanWithLove,

Regina here, for

I would like to personally invite you to list your blog on our Expat Women Blog Directory ( so that other women can read about and learn from your expat experiences.

Many thanks in advance for your contribution and keep up your great blog!


Grace said...

I'm not even in Japan and I've got layers of clothing on LoL!! Price in heating just keeps on creeping up and up..... I'm thankful that we're having a milder winter, but feel bad to have to hold the Winter Olympics here with so little snow... Where is our snow?????????

My dad would LOVE to have one of those neck/leg/body warmers!!!

RS said...

Japan seems so interesting and ahead of us! I'd love to visit one day.

kalai said...

aww.. cute.. ive always wanted a kotatsu. lol. its just looks so cute and comfy.ha~

i don't think i could live without central heating though. it takes me aaaggess to get out of bed here in the morning^^ xx


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