Things I like about Japan #1: Kotatsu

It’s only the second day of my language program here in Japan, and I’m already exhausted and drowning in work. Given that, I’d like to take the time to share one of the things that I like best about Japan: kotatsu.

A kotatsu (炬燵) is a low wooden table that is very popular in Japan but used almost nowhere else in the world (although Iran has something similar, according to Wikipedia). This alone is great. They make seats to go with them that are essentially chairs without legs. I love to sit down at a kotatsu and do my homework–I think it’s super comfy. In the winter, the table has a electrical heat source built into it, and you sandwich a blanket in between the legs/frame and table top to create a (sometimes treacherously) cozy den of warmth. It looks something like this:

Picture courtesy of

When you’re reminded of the fact that most Japanese homes don’t have central heating, the kotatsu becomes an even more wonderful device (and one that was certainly very useful when I lived in snowy Niigata). Anyway, even though it’s summer time here, I’ve repeatedly snubbed the normal desk in my room to sit at the kotatsu instead. God knows I’ll be spending countless hours studying on it!