How to survive Winter in Japan

It is getting cold in Japan – very cold. Winter is right around the corner and with it come frosty temperatures and lots of evenings spent inside.

Even though Japan rarely experiences temperatures far below freezing point, most buildings do not have outstanding isolation, so it can get pretty cold inside most apartments. But the Japanese are not known to complain and have come up with unusual ways to fight the coldness of winter. We have compiled a small list of five different things you can do to stay warm in Japan.

Even though most of you probably don’t live in Japan, you can still find one or two tricks to stay warm in your home country. Enjoy!




The first step to staying warm in Japan is an obvious choice – purchasing additional heaters.

Most Japanese homes are not equipped with a central heating system, thus it is essential to buy special heaters once it gets colder outside. There is a huge variety of different kinds of heaters available, ranging from cheaper to more expensive alternatives. One of the most common methods is purchasing an air conditioner that also has a heating function, so you can use it year around. Other popular models are oil heaters, kerosene heaters and electric heaters.

While this seems to be the most effective method to stay warm it is also the most expensive one, depending on the type of heater you get. Also, some heaters might produce an unpleasant smell that will stay in your apartment, so make sure to air out all rooms.





Let’s talk about an all-time favorite invention amongst Japanese and foreigners alike: the kotatsu.

Some of you might have already seen one in various TV shows, anime or manga, but let me give a quick explanation for those of you that have never heard of it. Basically, a kotatsu is a low table with an electric heater, covered by a big blanket, attached underneath it. As it is common in Japan, you would sit on the floor, slide your feet underneath the blanket and turn the kotatsu on.

This is probably the best way to warm up your cold feet and also to relax after a long day. However, covering an open heat source with a big blanket might not be the best idea – every year there are many cases of small house fires caused by forgotten kotatsu. Still, if you keep an eye on it, a kotatsu can become your best friend during winter.


Hot Pots



Japanese people cherish their food and the effects it has on the body. No wonder that the nation has come up with numerous recipes to keep you warm from the inside.

As the days get colder you will notice that oden stations show up at your local Japanese convenience stores. Oden is a dish consisting of a hot broth with vegetables, tofu, eggs and fish cake added to it. A similar and at least as popular dish is nabe, named after the big pot you use to prepare this meal. There are lots of different nabe recipes out there, but most of them include lots of seasonal vegetables as well as beef or seafood. The ingredients are slowly cooked and eaten almost directly out of the pot.

Not only are these dishes delicious, but they will also warm up your body and strengthen your immune system to fight nasty colds and other illnesses.


Electric carpets and blankets

Electric blanket


Similar to kotatsu, there are lots of other ways to keep your body warm using electricity.

Electric carpets and blankets are highly popular and are part of almost every Japanese household. The name already explains what these items are; simply plug them in and after some time you can step on a hot carpet or wrap yourself in a warming blanket. Even though they might not heat up your whole apartment or room, they are still comfortable to sit and lie on and will cheer you up for at least a couple of hours.


Body warmers, hot water bottles and Co.

Hot water bottle


Last but not least, there are numerous smaller items a Japanese person uses in everyday life to stay warm.

Hot water bottles are as popular in Japan as they are anywhere else in the world. Simply fill them with hot water and put them onto your body for instant comfort. Other methods include body warmers that you can put either underneath or on top of your clothes to keep certain body parts warm. Every year, leg warmers are popular amongst women to fight the cold and accessorize their outfits.

There are also various brands of heat retaining underwear available as well as stomach and hand warmers. Also, not every Japanese person wearing a surgical mask tries to protect him- or herself from possible illnesses – they are a great way to keep your face warm when strong and icy winds visit the country.

Of course there are many things one can do to stay warm that are not culture-specific. Drinking hot beverages, wearing lots of clothes or staying in motion are just some examples. But the methods we have mentioned above are especially popular and maybe even unique to Japan. If you follow all of these steps I am sure that the coldness of winter won’t get to you.

How do you stay warm in the cold winter months? Have you experienced winter in Japan? Your input is more than welcome in the comment section down below.

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