Sunday, January 2, 2011


In Canada we have Central Heating, which means that even when it is very cold outside, all of the rooms in our houses are heated evenly (more or less).  We also construct most buildings to retain heat.  Doors and windows that seal well, central rooms, etc.  In Japan, things are very different.

When I first arrived, I found it 'hot'.  Mostly because I had come from a dismal, wet, damp summer in Saskatchewan.  But I got over it in a day or two.  I love the humidity.  But as the weather began to become ever so slightly cooler, it became apparant to me that Japanese buildings do not retain heat at all.

If I were to add heat to my room, it would dissipate and I would be cold again relatively quickly.  In Canada, if I turned off the heating in a room, it would take longer than fifteen minutes for all the heat to be lost.  I attribute it to the large sliding doors with no sealing on the edges on one end of my room.  I can almost see the outside stealing my precious heat.  And the room was designed as a long rectangle, making one side of the room eternally colder than the other.  They rectified that last objection when they built the newer dorms.  But for all intents and purposes, my dorm has the heat retaining capabilities of a tent.

How the room is heated is very different.  I have an "Air Con" short for Air Conditioner that heats, cools, and dehumidifies my room.  I managed to hold off using it until the day it snowed.  At that point I figured I was justified in allowing myself to heat my room (and I thought I had figured out all the buttons on my complex remote).  It did not work.  So I had to wait for a repairman to come check it out.  They needed a part so I was able to get it repaired quickly.  So I know enjoy heating comfort, in my not freezing, but still cold climate.
My first reaction: "wha?"

Here's the remote to the Air Con, the colour coding makes it easier until you open it up and see the inside ------->

The stove
While my Air Con was not working, I found other ways to keep warm.  The International student center lent me a "stove".  So named for the old heating stoves that burned coal, wood or oil.  This one was electric.  So for the few days that were consistently below zero, I would turn it on, and huddle in front of its glowing bulbs like I was sitting in front of a campfire.  I even managed to find a way to get my computer cord to reach and not come in contact with the very hot stove.  The stove heats like a campfire as well, generally, the only side of the body that was heated was a the side facing the stove which lead to various attempts to position myself in a manner that would allow me to remain comfortable for as long as possible.  Each time I would have one side of my body cold and the other burning hot eventually.  This is when I discovered another way to keep myself warm when I went to bed.

The first was a "Donto" which is a pocket warmer.  I put one in the foot of the bed so the sheets would be warmer.  The major drawback to this one was that it could only heat a small area.  The final option I had was taking a super hot bath.  Sounds silly, but it worked.  By adding extra heat to my body, when I crawled into bed the sheets heated up faster and I had no problem staying asleep.  The Japanese obsession with baths has begun to make more sense to me.

Air Con over my sliding doors
So I hope Everyone back home in the Freezing North is staying nice and warm.  I shall make do in my non-heat retaining room and air conditioner placed right over the main heat loss.


  1. oh wow! the bath thing does make sense, i do that same thing to keep warm in my bedroom in yorkton. it gets so cold in there i swear they forgot to hook that room up to central heating.

    i applaud whoever thought to put a heater above a door, sealed or not :P

  2. You should have brought one of those sleeping bags that works till -50. Then you would be warm all night. And it with your "campfire" stove you just need marshmallows and it would be like camping all the time.