Keeping warm with a kotatsu

22 Dec 2017 in Discover Japan

What better way to beat the winter blues than by snuggling up under a heated table? Discover the joys of the Japanese kotatsu!


In many parts of Japan, winter means heavy snowfall and harsh sub-zero temperatures. Yet most Japanese homes have no central heating.

So how do people keep warm?

By congregating around the kotatsu, the heated table that becomes the centre of domestic life during the winter months.

Heating table

The kotatsu typically takes the form of a low table with an electric heater fixed to the underside of the table, and a futon blanket attached to its sides.

It’s usually placed on on a rug on tatami mats, which means you can sit on the floor, put your feet under the table and drape the blanket over your midriff. Then feel the heat rise up!

Some kotatsu, known as hori-gotatsu, have their heating in a sunken pit underneath the table.

Hori gotatsu

The advantage of this system is that you can dangle your feet below the floor – a big attraction if you struggle with sitting in the seiza position for long periods.

The origins of the kotatsu date back to the 14th century, when a seating platform was added to charcoal burners used for cooking. Even today, you’ll still find charcoal kotatsu.

Like to try the kotatsu for yourself?

At Hoshino Resorts KAI Kawaji, many rooms come with a private kotatsu – the perfect way to relax after a day in the snow!

Hosjino Resorts KAI Kawaji room

Hotel room in Tochigi prefecture

Or how about admiring a panoramic ocean sunset from the terrace of Hoshino Resorts KAI Atami with your legs tucked cozily under a thick blanket and a heated table?

Hoshino Resorts KAI Atami

Sea view on terrace

The kotatsu is truly one of the great pleasures of visiting Japan in winter!

Exterior kotatsu



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