2019 Dec 16, Winter Living


Posted: 16 December 2019
Author: Amanda Marble


Long time no post!


It’s December, which means in my mind winter has officially started no matter what the calendar may say otherwise. As an Iowan, winter means cold, snowy, blustery days until the end of March, sometimes even April! So even though Tokamachi gets the most snowfall in Japan, I definitely enjoy it way more than I do back home. Yes, it snows several feet on average. Yes, I will shovel all morning one day just to turn around and do it all over again the next day. And the next. But at least it stays above freezing here, which is way better than Iowa.


I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the outdoorsy sports type. I am much happier staying inside with a cup of tea and a nice, wintery video game where I can trek around in the snowy mountains on a virtual plain. My happiest days are spent cozied up under the kotatsu with my laptop and trusty cat companion snuggled on my lap. What outsiders may not realize though, is that most Japanese homes have poor insulation and single-pane windows if you live anywhere but Hokkaido. My apartment has gotten as low as 32F/0C overnight!


So how do we keep warm?


Obviously, most homes do have a heating unit but gets costly if you want to heat your entire place and/or leave it running for a long time. The lack of insulation means it doesn’t stick around long either when it shuts off. Space heaters are nice, but my favorite is the kotatsu, which is a table with a heating element rigged to the underside. The tabletop comes off so you can place a thick blanket underneath, and another padded rug goes under the table itself. Many of my Japanese friends joke about falling asleep at these tables because of how cozy they are! My other go-to are electric blankets. I used these often back in Iowa, and Tokamachi is no different. Slap one of these bad boys on your bed under your comforter and you’ve got a perfect recipe for never wanting to go anywhere.


And don’t underestimate the importance of a heated toilet seat. Might sound weird at first but it’s been a godsend.


Recently I have tried to fill in my window gaps with insulating foam strips. I will report back later if it makes any difference or not.


Hit me up at tokamachi.cir@gmail.com if you have any other ideas or suggestions!


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