Heaters and Warmers in Winter
Although the winter season seems to be getting milder year by year, it is still cold in Japan in winter. Air conditioners, stoves, fan heaters, oil heaters and electric carpets are used in homes. Some houses are equipped with floor heating. Humidifiers have been popular since a few years ago for alleviating the dry air condition caused by heaters. Among heaters and warmers, we feature both traditional types and also the latest products.
Hibachi and IroriEven though the number of families that use hibachi and irori are few nowadays, they are traditional heating appliances using charcoal. A hibachi is made from wood, metal, or ceramics. An Irori is a square shaped open hearth sunk in the floor and firewood or charcoal are burned as fuel. Hibachi and irori are used to boil water and to cook as well as for heating.
KotatsuA kotatsu, a small table with an electric heater underneath and covered by a quilt, is one of the traditional heaters used at home. Once charcoal was used as fuel but now electricity is normally used. Some families use only a small table without a quilt in seasons other than wintertime. You can adjust the height of the legs of some types of kotatsu and use them sitting on a chair. A scene in which all family members sit around the kotatsu, eating mandarin oranges, watching TV and chatting is a symbol of a happy home of the good old days.
Kairo (Portable body warmer)When you go out, portable body warmers are comfortable. “Hakukin Kairo,” which oxidizes benzine and generates heat using platinum as a catalyst, gradually lost popularity in the 1970s after a disposable body warmer came onto the market. However, from a few years ago it has started attracting attention and regaining popularity mainly among young people. Various types of covers are also available.
Still, a disposable body warmer is one of the most convenient warmers. Several types including “Hokkairo” from Hakugen are sold. Disposable body warmers that you stick to your clothes greatly help those who are sensitive to the cold. Products for the neck and shoulders, back, or feet are available, and they are helpful, especially, when you are out of doors for a long time, such as to watch a sporting event or enjoy leisure.
A body warmer using rechargeable batteries that are recharged from USB plugs of PCs is one of products that the Akihabara branch of Yodobashi Camera is featuring this year. The device is a recharger but also can be used a body warmer if you switch it on. Used throughout the year in this dual function, it is eco-friendly.
Yutampo hot-water bagYutampo, a hot-water bag in which you put hot water, is a traditional warmer. It gradually slipped into obscurity with Japan’s rising affluence, eclipsed by more fashionable and sophisticated home electronics, but recently it has become popular again as an eco-friendly warmer. It used to be put in a one’s futon at night, but now it also used during the daytime, covered by stylish covers.
At the Shibuya branch of Tokyu Hands, colorful and small hot-water bags are getting popular among foreigners as souvenirs. Materials of hot-water bags range from traditional metal to plastic to materials for wet suits. The wet-suit type is soft and can be used like a cushion.
A product line from Hakugen is similar to a hot-water bag but does not use water. This “Renji de Yutapon (microwave Yutapon)” is a gel wrapped with a special cover and is used after heated in a microwave. Yutapon that you use in bed for warming your feet and that you use at any time for warming your neck and shoulders are already popular, and “Office de Yutapon – Hizakake (Lap robe-type Yutapon for use at the office”) is newly released this year. Able to be used many times, these are very economical and eco-friendly.
The Akihabara branch of Yodobashi Camera also features a lap robe and a neck warmer, both of which are recharged from USB plugs of PCs. They are convenient when you use PCs, and can be used all over the world regardless of voltages. Being small and cute, they are also make good souvenirs.