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