5 Japanese Ways to Keep the Body Warm in Winter

By Vivian Kek in Wellness on 12 December, 2019

5 Japanese Ways to Keep the Body Warm in Winter

Keeping your body warm in winter can be a struggle, and being in Japan is no exception. Its chilly temperatures depend on the region. You can get milder temperatures in the south of Japan, whereas temperatures in northern Japan can plummet to the sub-zeros.

Despite this, the Japanese know how to keep their bodies warm in winter. They have adapted to the freezing weather and even use minimal energy and resources to keep themselves feeling snug.

Engawa

A typical engawa
Source: Interlacements

A traditional Japanese house has an engawa surrounding its edge. It resembles a sunroom to capture most of the winter sunlight. The heat is transferred to rooms nearby, keeping its occupants warm all throughout winter.

The engawa is a strategic form of Japanese architecture as it is built according to seasons. It keeps you warm in the winter, while also letting the breeze in during summer.

During summer time on the other hand, the engawa doubles as a front porch. The doors slide open to let the summer breeze in. This type of architecture is very strategic as it allows adjacent rooms to be warmer in the winter, and cooler in the summer.

Kotatsu Table

Kotsatsu is another brilliant Japanese invention to keep your legs warm. It is a heater tucked underneath a low table, which is then draped with a futon, or a thick quilt. Japanese people tuck their legs under the kotatsu blanket as they enjoy tea, read a book, or watch television. It keeps them warm and even makes for a cozy sanctuary to nap.

how to keep warm in winter at home
Kotatsu lets you nap in warmth
Source: Odditymall

Kairo

keeping warm in winter tips
Kairo, also known as pocket warmers
Source: Notes of Nomads

If you want to keep your body warm in winter fast, kairo is a quick way to provide you warmth.

Kairo is essentially a pocket warmer filled with a gel-like substance, which heats up when you snap it. There are various types of kairo—you can keep them in your pockets, stick them in between layers of clothes, or even store them in your shoes. There are also many eco-friendly versions available, where they can be reactivated in boiling water to use again. Kairo is a convenient tool which offers warmth, and are available throughout Japanese convenience stores and pharmacies.

Winter Food

Cold weather in Japan calls for food to keep the body warm. This includes winter specialties, such as nabe hot pot, a warm bowl of oden, or ramen.

Nabe is a Japanese-style hot pot with various ingredients like meat, vegetables and tofu cooked in a broth of your choice. This customisable dish is served in the same pot it was cooked in, with the stove still burning to ensure every bite is warm. In some Japanese supermarkets, you can find a section set aside for these nabe ingredients, which are already packed for convenience.

how to keep warm in winter at home
Nabe Hot Pot
Source: Savor Japan

Another winter classic is oden—a pot dish in a soy-flavoured dashi broth. It is usually eaten with an assortment of ingredients like radish, fishcakes, Atsuage, or deep-fried tofu and boiled eggs.

food to keep body warm
Oden Pot Dish
Source: Just One Cookbook

Soak in an Onsen

Source: Notes of Nomads

There is something about soaking in an onsen during the wintertime. Onsens are located practically all throughout Japan, so you can experience the warmth no matter how cold the region gets. Soak yourself in a hot spring bath to calm your insides, as you admire the winter scenery. Amplify this therapeutic experience when you immerse in an open-style bath. There are plenty of these open bath concepts around Japan, where you can unwind as you watch the snowflakes fall around you.

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