Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cool Japanese Thing #73: Kotatsu

 Like I mentioned in my previous post, Fukushima is cold. According to a coworker, this morning the weather was -3C. I don't know if I believe him, but I do agree that it is really, really cold. I wore an entire sweatsuit under my business suit this morning to keep from freezing in class. That's why, when I'm at home, I like to relax under my nice, toasty kotatsu.
 What is a kotatsu, you ask? Well, it's a table with a heater built into it, in the past a charcoal brazier built into the floor. As you can see from image one, the heater plugs into the wall and sends a soothing wave of warm air onto your lower extremities. The futon, known as a kotatsugake, keeps the heat collected under the table. It is a completely unique experience you will not find in America.
I was fortunate, in that the previous occupant of my apartment left his kotatsu to me. Although I did have to purchase a futon myself, I still ended up saving about $200. In Japanese families, the kotatsu is often a way of bringing people together. Entire families will congregate under the kotatsu for warmth and have the opportunity to interact. Sadly, I live alone...

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