In the minds of many, Japan lives in the future and is one of the most technologically advanced country, but as the months go by I believe that less and less. Japan is advanced when it comes to gadgets but when it comes to living it seems as if they live in the stone age. Even in what seems like an endless recession in America, the most basic of apartments and houses have central heating.
Every morning I wake up and take the usual 30 minutes to coax myself out of bed. Not because I’m not a morning person but because when it nice and warm in my bed and about 20 degrees F in the house… it’s difficult to get myself to go into the cold. When I finally get the courage to take the covers off I usually curse the lack of central heating in Japan as I shuffle my way to the kitchen. Not only is there no central heat, but older apartments and houses have no insulation. How do people keep warm you ask? Many people use a mix of kerosene heaters, and a kotatsu (a Japanese table with a heating element attatched to the underside of the table with a blanket over the top). The kerosene heater makes me a bit nervous so I use the air conditioner (that also heats) to keep my room warm. I say room because the norm here is “space heating” where you heat one room that you spend the most time in during the day( a.k.a the living room), leaving the rest of the house exposed to the cold. And god help you if you wake up and need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, you better put on a parka. Hence, the use of the heated toilet seat in Japan.
While the kotatsu is an old way to keep warm, the air conditioner is a new, most popular way to cool and heat your house. This way of heating is very inefficient, using heaps of electricity, and these barely insulated homes become so dry, it turns your throat into something resembling a dried up raisin.
Many of you might be thinking “you’re from Minnesota you should be used to the cold” Compared to most Minnesota winters 30-40degrees F is not cold here, but you guys live in houses with central heating!. While I freeze my tushie off in Gunma.
After living here I have come up with a few ways to keep warm. The most obvious is to put on layers, so I basically look like I did when I was 5 and about to go play in the snow, all bundled up….sitting in my living room. The second way is to use an electric blanket, it makes sleeping feasible without having to run the air con all night.
So back to my point, I can sit in my Japanese house with my touch screen
I phone, my laptop and all of the latest gadgets but I can’t live in a comfortably warm house…. thus I use the title The Stone Age for this post because sometimes it feels that I live that way.