Kotatsu at the gassho-style farmhouse inn. Ainokura in Gokayama


Under the kotatsu is the most comfortingly warm place during winter when centralized heating is not available indoors, as most temples or houses in rural Japan. This space heating device has electric heat source under the low table frame, where a blanket or futon is inserted between the table frame and tabletop as covering, and a futon placed on the tatami as sitting cushion. Putting one’s bottom-half underneath the cover as one sits, warms the lower body.


Kotatsu inside the Japanese Buddhist Temple inn at Hida-Takayama in Gifu


So, while the kotatsu is mildly toasting half of me, I can do something worthwhile on the tabletop like sipping tea, snacking, reading, or writing something, though my hands would still be freezing that I had to put both under the table from time to time.


Closer look of the kotatsu



Closer look of the heating source under the tabletop



Switch for the heat source


Kotatsu can be used for sleeping as well, as what I’ve seen in Japanese movies. But in real life, it feels uncomfortable because of the physical restriction, and still cold, unless you can manage to put your whole body under, or unless it’s the only heating you have at home. Only in Japan…




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