Written by Nupur Jena
4 Japanese Items That Make Cold Winter Days More Pleasant
Winter is a season of joy in Japan, especially when it snows. This article introduces four Japanese items that are extremely useful in order to fight the cold, which can become pretty harsh in January - February.
Winter has already made its way in Japan. The temperatures are falling and the preparations for New Year and Christmas are in full swing.
One comfortable way of spending a cold winter evening is sitting under a kotatsu.
What is a kotatsu, you say? Let's introduce it here along with other three useful items that make even the harsh cold winter nights bearable and pleasant.
Kotatsu - A Traditional Heating Device
A kotatsu is a low table with a heater attached underneath the table top. A thick blanket is placed between the two panels on the top of the table, creating a warm, cozy place! The kotatsu is an electronic heater unique to Japan; it is indeed a magic wonderland. One can sit with one's legs under the table and covered by the warm blanket, while enjoying day to day activities with family members and friends.
The blanket keeps all the heat in and one can keep warm while watching TV, using a computer, or eating. It is cheaper and more energy efficient compared to other heating methods. It can also be used as a normal table in other seasons and this makes the multi-functional kotatsu everyone's favorite device in Japan.
Essential in Winter: Kairo (Heating Pads)
A kairo is essentially a small heating pad. They are long-time bestsellers in Japan. These heating pads come in all shapes and sizes, and are sold across the country at convenience stores, supermarkets and drug stores.
The word "kairo" means "pocket warmer". These small packets contain a mixture of iron powder and salt which releases heat when exposed to air. In only a few minutes they warm up to 50 degrees Celsius and stay warm for at least eight hours or longer, depending on the type. They are of single use and easily disposable.
While some can be carried in one's pocket, some types have adhesive strips to attach them to one's clothes. They are a perfect item to combat the cold weather.
Unique Heating Packs
Heat packs are another item that makes the winter more bearable. Available in various sizes and shapes, they are filled with gel and are to be used around shoulders, feet or hands. These heat packs can be heated in microwave and used several times. They can be placed in pockets, gloves or between layers of clothes to produce a little extra warmth. They last about 5 hours or longer, depending on the brand. Heat packs can be found at Japanese convenience stores.
Azuki no Chikara Red Bean Shoulder Pillow is one such unique heat pack which uses Japanese red beans to produce a rich and natural steam that gently warms up the whole body when applied to one's shoulders. Heat the pillow in the microwave and place it over your shoulders for a 25-minute steam bath effect. One of the great effects of this heat therapy is that it will ease stiffness in the neck and shoulders at the end of a long day at work. The best part is that this shoulder pillow can be reheated and used over and over again. Available at most drugstores, it is a must buy in the winter!
Electric blankets ("denki moufu" in Japanese) are perfect for sleeping in a cold room without a heater. They are very popular in Japan and available in most of the home ware sections of any supermarkets. These blankets come in various sizes and prices as well. Operated through a panel of temperature control, these blankets are a blessing during the cold season.
Combined with a thick futon (traditional bedding), an electric blanket can trap the heat in for the whole night. It is recommended to turn it on 20-30 minutes before using so that it is cozy and warm when you need it.
We recommend to visitors to Japan to kairo and heating packs while walking outside on cold days. Whether you're visiting a cool place like Japan's northern regions, or walking around the city, these heat packs won't let you down. They are available at every drug store and convenience store. Have a great winter and enjoy a “warm” trip!!