The kotatsu is the traditional way to warm up in Japan. It consists of a low table under which a radiator is placed and a blanket covering the table to keep the heat in. Many people in Japan enjoy the cozy, concentrated warmth of kotatsu. We love to spend our time in winter around the kotatsu having a snack, drinking green tea, eating clementines and watching TV. It is also the ideal place to homemade warm meals with the whole family. Some people become almost addicted to the kotatsu and leave it as little as possible, except to go to the bathroom!
The first traces of kotatsu date back to the 15th century. At that time, people used an irori (囲炉裏), which is a fireplace dug into the floor located in the center of the room. It was mainly used for cooking but also for heating. This is where the horigotatsu (掘り炬燵 hori meaning "dug") is said to have originated from. Indeed, we started using charcoal to limit the power of the fire and placed a table with a blanket. And there the kotatsu we know today was born!
Since then, there has not been any major evolution except the switch to electricity in the 20th century. No more holes in the floor now, the heating system is directly attached to the table. It is now portable and more convenient and comes in many different shapes, some are round or square, bigger, wider, more luxurious, and some of them can cover the surface of your sofa/bed, to the delight of those who just want to curl up under a blanket, snug and warm, with some food at hand. An excellent incentive to hibernate all winter long...