Yes, the rumors are true: most buildings in Japan do not have central heating. No basements, no furnaces, no warm-air registers, no real insulation. . . . The one winter I was halfway warm was when I lived on the north island, Hokkaido, where the structures are built for cold: the windows had double panes of glass, and a truck brought kerosene right to my door. A friend and co-worker of mine once wrote of Niigata: “Here, there are about two sweltering weeks of the year, and the rest of the time it’s freezing. But all the houses are built for those two weeks. . . .” Perish the thought that we should get too hot!
So in an effort to save on heating costs this winter, I invested in a low-end model of Japan’s traditional method of keeping warm: the kotatsu.
Most kotatsus aren’t placed halfway under a conventional desk like mine is in the above photo. I just do that to save space. I moved my computer down from the desk to the kotatsu. I sit on a legless chair called a zaisu. Your legs and feet go under the kotatsu, and the blanket fits around your waist. There’s a dial to adjust the heat up or down.
And here’s a recently-discovered glimpse of the past, courtesy of our friend Chris:
Okay, that’s quite enough of that. I don’t think there’s anything more to be said for right now. I’ll just leave quietly. Back to business next time!