Kotatsu (こたつ) hot tables are a popular cost-efficient way to keep warm during Japan’s colder seasons. Integral to household culture, a kotatsu has a low coffee table with a heating element installed underneath. A blanket sits atop the table, then another hard wooden piece over that. This creates a cozy little environment for sitting around, relaxing in warmth whilst you cover yourself with an edge of the kotatsu blanket.
What should we consider when using a kotatsu?
Alongside Japanese using kotatsu, remember that you must always sit on the floor around the table. Moving the table or pulling the blankets towards a nearby couch is not polite. Cushions and Zaisu chairs are acceptable if you need a seat a little softer than a tatami mat. Zaisu chairs are reclining chairs that have no legs but still have a normal seat and back.
How can we enjoy Kotatsu?
In Japanese culture, eating mikan (mandarins) and drinking ocha (green tea) while sitting around the kotatsu is tradtional. Kotatsu often have a bowl filled with mikan placed upon it for both decoration and a healthy snack. I believe that mikan are required because you are at risk of becoming hungry; because you will be reluctant to get up after the irresistibly cozy warmth.
Kotatsu are a great way to keep warm on a budget. The setup means that even inside large houses with poor insulation, you can still keep warm. In Japanese home culture, kotatsu are typically set up inside the living room as a place where family can talk and bond. When sitting at the table, lying down to sleep keeps with kotatsu culture. When you’re snuggled up under something this cozy, it is hard not to do so!
If you’re looking for an easy way to keep warm, adopt some Japanese culture, and use a kotatsu. Curl up under a kotatsu and watch a movie with your friends or family while munching mikan over hot tea. You will never experience anything as cozy as this.