Kotatsu, the Hottest Accessory this Winter


WordsSolenn Cordroc'h


Typically Japanse, Kotatsu is the best barrier against the cold. This portable heated table adorned with a blanket that hides an electric radiator is the epicentre of domestic life during the cold winter months. Friends and families sit around it to eat, chat, read and rest, all while keeping their legs toasty.

For centuries, the Kotatsu was the only source of heating in many Japanese homes, the first mention of its existence dates back to the 15th century, when a coal heater was dug into the centre of a room itself. With the arrival of electricity in the 20th century, a system of electric heaters place underneath the table became more popular.

Kotatsus were most popular around forty years ago, with production decreased today due to a move towards underfloor heating systems and air conditioners which are much more à la mode in Japanese homes these days. However kotatsus provide energy savings that should not be overlooked. The blanket positioned on top of the table allows the heat to be contained within a defined space. The electricity consumption of a kokatsu is thus less than half of a heater that warms the entire room. Since the major earthquake in March 2011, questions of energy consumption have reemerged and sales of kotatsu increased considerable. While it might be the right-on option for those concerned about energy usage, it is also above all a product that encourages conviviality, and a cosy space for people to curl up with a warm cup of tea.

©Marieve 瑞香 Inoue