Thursday, December 9, 2010

How Stuff Gets/Stays Warm

So!  Here we meet again.  Hello.

A Proper picture of the Kotatsu Table

The heating elements in Japan are strange and fascinating.  Heat everything?  Never!  You must be cold when going from place to place, and only warm when you settle in one place!... if you are lucky.  Bake?  Not in my house.  We are not blessed with an oven, convection or otherwise.  That's what J & M are for.  We'll see you soon, J & M.  Here are the different heating devices we have come to know and love:

The Kotatsu

I scoffed at the kotatsu, resisted its powers, but now we are in love.  The kotatsu poses as a regular, not especially attractive-looking coffee table, but she has hidden warming powers.  The kotatsu has a heater underneath.  You need one of these floor chairs that adjusts to different levels like a patio chair.  They look uncomfortable, but they are heaven in disguise.  Plug the kotatsu in, toss a blanket over the whole mix, and snuggle in for a sedentary night of Facebooking, Megavideo watching, reading, studying Japanese, or letter writing.  In these pictures I have tossed the blanket over the whole table, but you are supposed to take the table top off and pin the blanket between the top and the base.  In this way, you maintain your regular table top while trapping the toasty goodness in underneath.  We put the blanket away the day before for a party, and when I was ready to sit down to make CDs the next night, I just wanted to get warmified as quickly as possible.

A Peek Under the Kotatsu

In The Bedroom
We have a wall heater in the bedroom with a really awesome little remote control.  This thing is also an air conditioner.  It works pretty well, but Japanese homes have zero insulation, so we really have to pump it for the room to stay warm.

        In The Bathroom                        
Our tub is pretty awesome.  Japanese bathrooms are pretty awesome.  This is our shower room.  The whole room is for taking a shower and/or bath.  In Japanese fashion, you would fill the tub and cover it- You can just see the 3 covers in the left of the frame -then the whole family washes by taking a shower.  Everyone being clean, you can share the tub water and each take a nice soak.  We perform every configuration of bathing in here; showers, baths, both, and family bath/shower combos.  Check out that little box above the tub in the middle of the picture.  The black part is a screen that has a digital read out of the temperature, the tub fill line, the time, etc.  The top left button is green and gets pushed when you go in to do anything.  That button turns the heater on.  It's gas.  The top right button is pink.  This magical button fills the tub.  So you just decide that you want to take a bath, go in and touch the green and then the pink, and 20 minutes later you have a full tub, filled to the level of your choosing, at a hot tub temperature.  The water for this comes out of the round metal thing down in the tub.  You can change the temp, too, which I need to do because I always need to take a couple of minutes to add some cold water so I can get in.  The button on the bottom right is yellow.  That is the button you push if you need to rewarm the water.  Maybe you forgot about your bath, or unexpectedly had to leave your bath, or someone took a bath at five and someone else wants to take a bath at 7, you just use the covers for the tub and push yellow when you need to rewarm.  The water gets sucked into the round metal thing and pushed back out, but warm.  I don't know what the button on the bottom left does.  This Japanese dude who came over told us not to touch it.

In The Kitchen
This is our water heater for the kitchen.  I love the push button turn on.  It's really convenient for turning the water on when your hands are messy and for managing the water and a rasculin' baby at the same time.  We turn the gas on and off as we use it for the tub, the stove, and the water heater.  You turn the dial for desired level of hotness, and that's it.  You can also use it without the gas being on for cold water, or you can use the faucet.

This is our toaster oven.  It's way up in the cabinet in this picture. 
We put it away for counter space.  It works pretty well, but it's not big enough to make cookies or anything.
Then we have the stove with two burners where we do most of our cooking, and the kettle.  We just got this new kettle.  It's so powerful that it throws the breaker all the time.  It beats our old one that did not have an auto shut off.  I won this one playing Bingo at my school's Bounen kai (end of year party).   I love it!

And finally, we have the oil heater.  This bad boy has a tiny little notch representing every quarter of an hour throughout the day.  You push them up for off and down for on, so it pops on and off just when you want it to, all day.  It's the least scary of room heater options available, aside from installing another wall heater, which would cost us close to $300, I think.  We bought this one from eco-town, a recycle shop, or second hand store, down the road from us.  We inherited a kerosene heater, but Peter refused to consider it because of the fumes.  I'm very proud of him for that, actually, since he rarely adheres to any principle, which drives me batty.  I know now from experience in my office that kerosene heaters give off potent gas fumes that I don't notice until I leave and reenter the office.  Then I realise that they are really strong, and not very healthy.

                                                                The Oil Heater                                                       

I guess that's it.  Kind of a funny topic, but it's a big part of life, staying warm.  Happy Holidays!!

From Japan,

PS:  The formatting on Blogger is a nightmare.  Yeah?


Gaijinesse said...

A+ post would read again while snuggling under a blanket. Unfortunately, I have like... one heating option in my apartment. That oil heater sounds amazing, though.

Blogger does suck. I regret using it, but I guess it's too late now.

Gaijinesse said...

PS: Immediately after reading this I managed to trip my own breaker. Silly me, I forgot I can't cook and have heat at the same time. :P

Anonymous said...

The constant battle with the breakers is always fun. I am sad to say that today the Tenth of December was the first day that I actually felt cold. So I am now under the Kotatsu. Feet Warm.

Ayne said...

The kotstsu sounds like an american fireplace; very toasty cozy and romantic to snuggle with your hunny. :-)