Sunday, January 14, 2007


The Japanese have made one great invention to help deal with the lack of insulation in their houses - the heated table or "kotatsu". A very basic one consists of a low table which has a heater attached to the underside of the top. The entire table is then covered with a thick blanket and you put your legs under it and are snuggly warm. This works really well until you have to go and get something from the kitchen or head to the toilet - at which point you just make a mad dash for it and hope to get back to the warmth of the table before allThe Japanese have one great invention to help your bits freeze off! Traditional Japanese people hold to the belief that if your feet are warm and your head is cold you will remain wide awake and alert, whereas if you head is warm you will become sleepy..... judging by the number of people I have seen sleeping while sitting in these tables I'm not exactly sure if the thinking still holds!
The table in the picture above is at my husband's parents' house and is one of the old style ones. There is a pit in the floor and in the very bottom of the pit there is a can to hold a big chunk of compressed charcoal. The charcoal is lit and the temperature inside the table is controlled by opening and closing the vent on the side of the can. Because you can sit with your legs inside the hole it makes for a much more comfortable seat than a regular low table. In general a very comfortable, warm, odourless way to sit! Mind you there have been stories of cats curling up to sleep under the table and dying from the fumes. I guess no invention is perfect!

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