Written by dackelynn on 28 Nov, 2006
Japan might be an advanced, industrialized nation but if you think that central heating exists then you're kidding yourself. It's cold outside and it can get just as cold inside if you don't take the proper measures. Here's a guide for those of you who…Read More
Japan might be an advanced, industrialized nation but if you think that central heating exists then you're kidding yourself. It's cold outside and it can get just as cold inside if you don't take the proper measures. Here's a guide for those of you who want to stay warm!
Insulate your place! At home stores and 100 yen shops you can find cheap insulation strips. Place these in your window cracks so that you don't have any breezes coming in. You can also close the storm windows (if you have them) or use bubble wrap to wrap your windows as further protection from the cold.
The kotatsu is your friend. These are short tables that have a heater underneath and a removable top. Put a large, square blanket in between the table and the tabletop then turn it on! Your legs will stay toasty while you watch TV. Generally, it is not recommended that you use your laptop on the table but if you don't have it turned up really high and can't feel the heat on the top of the table then you should be okay. Don't sleep under it.
If you're lucky enough to have a large air-conditioning unit then it probably gives out heat as well. Look up the kanji for 'heat' and wait until it shows up on your panel. It will take a few minutes to warm up (no, it's not broken!) and then the heat will start to flow. Generally, the Japanese keep the heat confined to one room.
Get out the kerosene heater. Sure, it stinks but it's cheap and warm. Be sure it crack the window every so often before the fumes get to you. Don't use old kerosene because it will give off dangerous fumes. Also, fill your heater outside so you don't spill kerosene in your house.
Hit the hot springs! These places are generally cheap (400 yen for residents) and you can stay in those hot, hot pools for as long as you like. A lot of them have saunas as well, which does wonders for (temporarily) banishing the cold.
Showering can turn into some kind of torture in the cold mornings. I have insulated my shower door and put up a rack of hooks. This way, I put up the clothes I will wear tomorrow on the hooks (away from the water's spray) so that the heat from the shower will warm them up and I won't have to put on freezing clothes. You can also purchase a small electric heater (1000-2000 yen) for those cold mornings.
If you're unfortunate enough to live in the mountains during the winter then you may have to store your toiletries in the fridge so they don't freeze. You may also have to leave on tap dripping so that your pipes don't freeze.
Some Japanese use disposable heat pads during the day. These things range in size, for ones that fit in your shoes to the ones you're supposed to put down your pants. Usually, they have bright red plastic packaging. Unwrap the plastic but don't open the pouch inside. It will start to warm up in a few minutes and last for some hours. These are nice if you're going to be in the cold all day and want some relief.
Wear lots of warm layers. Women, arm warmers are your friend. Also, make sure you have warm blankets so you can get a good night's sleep. Electric blankets are available. If you use a lot of dry heat (from electric heaters, for example), be sure to put on some lotion so your skin doesn't dry out. Just remember, spring will come eventually! Hang in there!
My small town of Misaka is home to a fantastic hot spring, or 'onsen' in Japanese. The place may be hard to find as it is hidden amid peach trees and grape farms but if you go to the trouble to get there then you…Read More
My small town of Misaka is home to a fantastic hot spring, or 'onsen' in Japanese. The place may be hard to find as it is hidden amid peach trees and grape farms but if you go to the trouble to get there then you won't be disappointed!
First, a note about proper onsen etiquette. Tattoos are not welcome and considered polluting. If you have a small tattoo then you can try covering it up with a band-aid. Be sure you go into the correct onsen door - there is one for women (generally with red writing) and one for men (generally with blue writing). You must remove your shoes before stepping on the flooring there (at this onsen, you will remove your shoes at the entrance to the facility) or risk getting yelled at by the locals. Put all your valuables in a locker; you will get a wrist key. Then, strip down completely and grab your small 'modesty towel' (although it doesn't cover much) and leave your large towel in the big tub for when you return.
After stepping into the onsen, you must shower at the little stalls. You can sit on the little stools while you wash your hair and all the rest. There is shampoo, conditioner, and body wash provided. You must be completely clean before stepping into the hot springs because the water is shared and you don't want your dirt to get on everyone's skin. After showering properly, you're now ready to enjoy the onsen!
The Misaka Rose Garden Hot Springs has many baths, including an outside bath. There are some interesting jet baths that are supposed to help various body problems. The hot springs outside usually has pretty flowers floating in the water that have been gathered from the garden. There is also a sauna inside. You can rub salt on your skin if you wish like the Japanese. This onsen attracts few tourists so you may get a few curious looks. If you follow proper etiquette then you will be treated well.
The onsen is open every day except for Tuesday from 10am to 8.30pm. Non-residents are charged 700 yen for a all-day hot springs ticket. There is also a tennis court and hot springs guests get free entrance. There is food available at the dining hall. There are also massages available. You can also stroll through the pretty garden outside. For a map and more information in English you can go to www.city.fuefuki.yamanashi.jp/english/shisetsu.php?id=2 . Enjoy your bathing!
Hoko-ji is a Buddhist temple, located conveniently near the more famous Erin-ji Temple in Enzan. From Erin-ji, walk up the road and look for signs. Hoko-ji is to the left. Hoko-ji doesn't look very different from many other Buddhist temples from the outside, but it…Read More
Hoko-ji is a Buddhist temple, located conveniently near the more famous Erin-ji Temple in Enzan. From Erin-ji, walk up the road and look for signs. Hoko-ji is to the left. Hoko-ji doesn't look very different from many other Buddhist temples from the outside, but it does have the distinction of being able to bless those looking for love and it has some fantastic statues.
I highly recommend taking the temple tour. Be sure to exchange your shoes for the guest slippers. The tour leads you around the temple complex. Don't take pictures of the temple sanctums. After passing through the main building, you will come to a small, peaceful area marked by rows of 5 yen coins on string. This is where those who wish to look for love can have some cosmic assistance. You can purchase a small charm. Take the coin and tie it around the rope and make a prayer. The other part is yours to keep. The tour will also lead you to the back of the temple, where you can glimpse most of the tranquil Japanese garden. At the end of the tour you will most likely be provided with a pot of green tea and some snacks. Be sure to thank the monk on your way out ('Arrigato gozaimashta!').
While Hoko-ji may look plain, it houses many treasures waiting to be discovered. Don't give this place a pass!