Winter is approaching, and the ultimate goal is to obviously stay warm. Inside your home, there aren’t many places you can retreat to from the harsh cold. Stepping into the kitchen instantly turns your toes into frozen sausages from the hard flooring. The bathroom toilet seat sends chills up your back the moment you plop down on it. Your living room, which was previously your go-to for comfort, now looks like the deserted lair of the Ice Queen.
The only way to reclaim your home, one room at a time, is by applying an age-old Japanese solution. In the Land of the Rising Sun, people are used to unbearable winters. During this time, they bust out their kotatsu and lounge around festively, while everyone else is freezing around their unreliable fireplace.
What’s a kotatsu?
A kotatsu is a table with a heater, concealed with a blanket to trap the heat in. The electric heater is installed under the table, where it can keep your feet warm. Back in the day, people used manual heat, or burning hot coals, to power their heater. It also doubled as a hot pot for soups and hearty stews. The whole setup was risky for obvious reasons, but no one said ballin’ on a budget was safe! According to Japanese parents, it is also not recommended to sleep under the apparatus overnight. The last thing you want to do is kick the heater around while dozing away, though the occasional power nap probably wouldn’t hurt.
“It is so comfortable to stay with feet and legs under the kotatsu that it can be difficult to get up and spend time in colder parts of the home,” wrote Nippon. “Those who will only move away from the table for toilet breaks are often compared to snails, as if the kotatsu actually was a part of their bodies! And cats are also said to love the heating systems; one popular children’s rhyme famously talks of a cat curling up under the kotatsu.”
The makeshift heater is perfect for cabins and modern sheds. For the environmentally conscious, it’s important to know that the kotatsu consumes less power than a centralized unit. It might make you lazy, but that’s the point. Winter isn’t a season for productivity and new ideas. You want to get through it as comfortably and painlessly as possible. During the day, it’s mostly used for leisure. On the table, you could have your morning coffee, play board games or munch on popcorn while watching a movie.
Where can I get one?
Sadly, this form of traditional heating is losing its charm in Japan. Heater and air conditioning systems have phased out the kotatsu, making it irrelevant in today’s fast-paced households. The best way to revisit the iconic Japanese tradition is to build one yourself. Instructables boasts the most reliable online DIY tutorial that covers all of the steps thoroughly. When you’re done hibernating, the contraption reverts back to a regular table. No one will ever know your secret for staying warm. Take that, winter!