LIVING IN JAPAN

Staying Warm in Winter

Posted on Dec. 24, 2021

Winter is here, and with the weather getting colder, it’s harder and harder to stay warm!. Even with restrictions letting up in Tokyo, Covid 19 is still around, so we’ll likely spend more time at home than usual this winter. Luckily, Tokyo doesn’t get as cold as it does up north, but if you like it warm there are ways to stay cozy in the safety of your own home!

Heat packs are a good way to stay warm, both inside and out. They’re small and easy to find at your local convenience store and packs of 15-20 can cost less than 1000 yen. In Japanese they’re called kairo (kairo) and come in a few different kinds. Of course, you have the small normal packs that fit easily in your pocket, and these come in sticky (haru) and non-sticky (haranai) varieties. There are also varieties you can stick to your socks or shoes if your feet get cold. Be careful to not  stick them directly to your skin! If you want a hot pack to stick to your skin, they have medicinal types that are safe and good for both warming up and soothing sore muscles!  They also have heated eye masks for tired eyes.

A Japanese way to stay warm is to invest in a Kotatsu, heated carpet, or a hot water bottle known as a yutanpo. Kotatsus are a table with a built-in heater and blanket, and are super cozy. They’re great for staying warm while you’re working, eating, or just hanging out. In a similar vein heated carpets keep a small area of your flooring warm while you sit. Cover it with a rug and enjoy a cozy winter afternoon!. When bedtime rolls around, heat up a yutanpo and take it to bed with you! Boil a pot of water, fill up the bottle to about two-thirds full, and wrap a soft towel around it, or get a special cloth bag to put it in.

A more universal approach to staying warm is to make a warm dish or drink to enjoy! In Japan, this means nabe. Nabe is a hot pot that can be customized to fit your tastes (and budget!). You can find nabe packages at the supermarket, which usually have Chinese cabbage, meat, tofu, veggies, and fish cakes. Daishi (fish stock), soy sauce, and kombu (kelp) are commonly added ingredients as well.  If nabe isn’t your style, any warm dish will do! Teas, coffees, and hot chocolate are delicious drinks to stay warm as well! 

There are of course many other ways to stay warm at home this winter! Warm clothing and masks, taking a hot bath, and space heaters are also great ways to generate some heat at home without breaking the bank. What’s your favorite way to stay warm in winter?