Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Grrr. I am a Southern California gal. I do not like cold winters. But here I sit in a cold Japanese house that has no central heating and poor insulation.

When I first came to Japan 30 some years ago, I lived in one of the coldest areas in Japan, Iwate Prefecture. Now, I've lived in snowier places since then (the west side of Japan gets more snow) but Iwate and the city of Morioka (where Tetsu grew up) is considered the coldest outside of the northernmost island of Japan. (Someone is going to remind me that there is a farther north prefecture on the main island that is pretty cold but Morioka is located in a basin and the temperatures really fall there.) ANYWAY, it was cold!

The first year I really didn't believe that humans were meant to live in Iwate. How could anyplace be so cold! I wore a heavily padded kimono coat CONSTANTLY, even to the classes I was teaching and I stayed close to the kerosene heaters not getting anywhere near the blackboards. I burned holes in the back of my kimono coats because I got so close to the heaters! This is slightly risque to say, but I wondered at the romance in my friends' life when both husband and wife wore long-johns and scarves to bed!

I have been back to visit Iwate Prefecture and though the outside is still breathtakingly cold, the houses are warm! (warmer.) Better insulation and heating in the newer northern homes...

Tetsu and I bought a nice fuel burning stove recently. It heats the living room well. JUST the living room. In the dining room where I teach I have an electric heater under the throw rug so that the ladies' toes stay warm (but often feet have to compete with cats).

Until recent years, Tetsu and I just slept in a freezing room (I remember when I lived in Iwate I would wake up with the frozen condensation on the blanket around my face!) but last year I bought a portable radiator and covered the bedroom door with one of my quilts. This year I'm thinking of buying window insulation (much like popping plastic for shipping things.)

And finally, we have a heated mat for the sofa so that Tetsu can stay warm while he watches TV. The cats absolutely LOVE the heated mat. Not much room for Tetsu on the sofa.

(The heated toilet seat is lovely but how long can one sit on a heated toilet seat?)

We are doing what we can to stay warm!

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