Like many Japanese homes, ours has no central heating, and little to no insulation. Houses here are designed to be aired. Large doors and windows slide open to let the wind blow in. Great in summer, but downright chilly in the winter.

In some ways the lack of central heating makes ecological sense. First of all, put on a sweater and some slippers. Why heat up a whole house when you’re only in one room at a time? For that there are space heaters — electric and kerosene.

image stolen from the internetz

There’s also the kotatsu. Modern kotatsu are tables with built-in electric heaters. A thick duvet covers the table and traps heat inside. A wooden slab goes on top of the stack. Tuck yourself in, flick the switch and your legs stay nice and cozy.



Another brilliant invention is the Japanese bath. These are shorter and deeper than your average North American tub. When you sit down in the tub, the water comes right up to your neck. Your own personal hot tub. Ours is on a timer so the water is hot just before bed. It does the body good, helping me wind down after a long day, easing my sore muscles and warming me up, before jumping into the futon in the unheated bedroom.

japanese bath2

my own personal hot tub

japanese bath

a japanese bath is a beautiful thing.