Surviving a Japanese Winter

Japanese winters can seem unusually tough for westerners when they visit or decide to live in Japan. The first thing that might seem unbearable to foreigners is that Japanese homes aren't well suited for winter because Japan doesn't have central heat.
After a long day of trudging through snow or having cold wind blow in your face westerners are used to walking in a home and being instantly embraced with warmth...well this isn't really the case in Japan. When you walk into your apartment, or someone else's home in Japan you will be greeted with the same frigid temperature that you experienced outside. Obviously, the Japanese are prepared for this and with the help of this article you can be too!
Slippers and Socks

We'll start with the basics. The first thing that you should invest in are a good pair of warm socks and comfortable slippers. Japanese homes are almost always hardwood, so you want something to protect your feet from the freezing floor when the temperature starts to drop. I would suggest buying slippers that are lined with fleece and pairing them with soft, fluffy socks, those always keep my nice and toasty.
Kerosene Space Heaters

Kerosene space heaters are very popular in Japan. These space heaters warm up the room relatively fast, and will definitely keep you nice and toasty, but there are a few cons to this. Because this machine works by burning kerosene, you have to keep pouring in the kerosene to keep it going, which can get a bit messy. These heaters also spew exhaust fumes that can be deadly when inhaled in huge doses so you need to crack a window open to ventilate your room.
Electric Space Heater

These are significantly safer in terms of not killing you with noxious gases. Japanese space heaters are very similar to American or western heaters so it won't be that much of a culture shock. These will definitely keep your apartment warm during those frigid winter months. The only real downside to this is that they're electric and will run up your electricity bill if your running them for the entire winter.   
Electric Blankets/Rugs
Theres nothing I love more than wrapping myself up in a warm blanket during the winter. These are pretty much self explanatory, you plug 'em in and enjoy the warmth defrosting your winter body. Again, the only downside to this is running the risk of running up your electricity bill. To avoid throwing away yen try heating up water in a hot water bottle and putting it under a normal blanket to heat it up.

The epitome of Japanese heating, the magnificent kotatsu! The kotatsu is made up of a table with a little space heater attached to the bottom that plugs into the wall. On top of the table you lay a huge comfy blanket and on top of the blanket you place a table top. Don't worry about burning yourself on the heater, theres a grate that will protect you. The kotatsu is perfect for those lazy days when you just want to chill out on your computer or read a book, although they can run up the electric bill so be careful not to overuse it.
Good food solves all of life's problems! Japan has great food recipes when it comes to warming up in the winter. Warm up with a nice hot bowl of ramen, or get some people together to enjoy a hot pot dish (nabe) not only will you eat something hot but there will be more body heat in the room to keep you warm! Try eating some nice hot tempura or other fried foods to keep you comfy.

Layer Up
Of course the cheapest way of staying warm is just layering up in as many blankets and sweaters as possible. This is cheap, yes, but layering up can be a bit suffocating so it's best to supplement with the above methods.
Stay Safe
Of course you can't be warm if your dead, so stay safe when using these methods. Be careful not to leave heaters unattended for too long, or leave them on when you leave the house. I would also advise not to do any DIY heating, this can be dangerous and you don't want to burn yourself or your apartment. 
I hope this article helped make you prepared for the Japanese winter! Stay warm!

Donna Rhae