Never leave your Kotatsu bed this amazing Japanese invention
Oh, those lazy, lazy Sundays when all you want is to stay home and be under a warm blanket, watching TV or surfing the net. Or just laying on the Kotatsu bed, snuggling with your loved one. Yes, we can all imagine these scenes of enjoying ourselves by just doing nothing all day.
But, as the winter coming, some of us experience the coldness in our legs and that irritable feeling that you simply cannot warm your body. You can just feel the coldness getting into your bones. There is an old recipe in European countries that the old grandmas would advise putting a bottle with the warm water under the blanket to make your legs feel warm and comfortable.
But, Japanese have this cool invention called Kotatsu! Kotatsu consists of blankets, located between the lower frame of the table and countertops and a heat source is located under the covers. With their feet placed under a blanket, Japanese who would wear traditional clothing would be warmed as the air came through the bottom of their robes and exit on the neck, heating the entire body.
Kotatsu dates back from Muromachi era during the fourteenth century. Before it became Kotatsu as we know it today, first it was ‘irori’, Japanese cooking hearth that was heated by the charcoal and it was mainly used for cooking and heating in traditional Japanese households. Later in time, during the fourteenth century, a seating function was introduced to irori and became separated from its cooking function. A quilt was placed on the top of the wooden platform and this quilt was called oki . This oki was used to localize and trap the heat of the charcoal burner. This device, before the real Kotatsu was introduced, was called hori-gotatsu.
In the seventeenth century, some changes took place. The floor around irori was dug-out into the ground in the form of the square. The wooden platform was then placed around this thus creating a hearth. The blanket was set on the top of the platform and one could now sit with the legs underneath and stayed warmed.
From this concept of hori-gotatsu , moveable Kotatsu was later made. The charcoal was placed in an earthen pot which was set in tattami matting making Kotatsu transportable. This Kotatsu was known as Oki Kotatsu.
Later on, in the twentieth century, the charcoal was replaced with electricity and became fully mobile because the electric heating fixture is directly attached to the frame of the Kotatsu.
Kotatsu is a common heating device in Japan since their homes are not insulated as well as the western houses usually are, and they do not have central heating.
This is how the Japanese keep warm in the winter. This cool device can really keep you warm during the cold days and can be really practical, for you can have a cup of tea or coffee in the bed, or have your laptop ready for work. It si really fun that you can enjoy your Sunday just by staying warm in the bed or you can work and feel comfortable at the same time.