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Kotatsu

The kotatsu is a Japanese comforting object, a lifesaver that keeps you warm in the cold seasons and is the focal point of the house in cold weather. Like a campfire that draws people (and cats) around, it is a source of warmth and joy that brings people together.

Usually placed in the center of the house, the modern kotatsu consists of a low table on which a special futon blanket is placed. An electric heater is attached underneath, which keeps the lower body warm. Although they enjoyed some popularity at one point after underfloor heating became more common, the Japanese concept of the kotatsu has taken off in an attempt to save energy as they are cheaper to run than electric heat.

Origins of the Kotatsu 

Developing over the years, the modern Japanese electric hot table has had a rather humble and practical beginnings, thought to date back to the Muromachi period in the 15th century.

Charcoal was once used to heat a fire pit embedded in the floor called an irori. Later, a platform was added to separate the cooking function from the heating function and finally, to prevent the heat from vanishing too quickly, a comforter was placed on top to retain the heat. This early style was called a hori-gotatsu, which means a ditch heater.

kotatsu-origins

How did kotatsus evolved over time?

Traditional Japanese homes have always been difficult to heat because of their thin walls. So it's not surprising that kotatsu has become an enduring and well-established part of Japanese culture.

Of course, heating other rooms in the house, especially the bedroom, became more desirable and so the portable kotatsu was born.

First coals in an earthen pot, then later an electric heater attached to the bottom of the table, making it portable, the wonderful opportunity to take a nap under your kotatsu was born. This modern style is called oki-gotatsu, oki meaning placement.

How does a Kotatsu work?

A kotatsu table works very easily. It is a low wooden table, into which a blanket (shown here in green) is wedged between the base and the top.

how-kotatsu-work
The heater, or kotatsu heater, is fixed directly under the table. The heater is specially designed for these models of heated furniture. It provides continuous gentle heat without the risk of burning. With this type of heater combined with a good blanket, you stay warm and cozy all day long.

The oldest models are dug in the ground, to allow the burning of coal. This kind of system is no longer found in modern houses. However n traditional Japanese houses, you can still come across them.

old-kotatsu

The Kotatsu Table 

Japanese kotatsu tables are a style of decoration that conveys the traditional values of honor, duty and love for nature. In fact, kotatsu tables are the most common tables used in Japan and is a piece of furniture with multiple functions.

With a kotatsu table, you will have the simplicity and originality of Japanese style induces well-being and joy of living. It perfectly creates a serene and Zen atmosphere in your interior.

kotatsu-table

These tables are not simply for use along the other items that complete the kotatsu but can also be utilized as a traditional tea and coffee table when the sunny days come by. which makes them a great versatile piece of furniture.

The Kotatsu Futon

A Kotatsu is always wrapped with a blanket, most frequently referred to as Futon. The unique thing about the kotatsu is the fact that underneath it is a heat source. This heat source is covered by a Futon and can be built-in or detached from the table. Kotatsu's modern design mainly utilizes an electric heater. On the other hand, the traditional Kotatsu style is based on charcoal heating.

kotatsu-futon-blanket

How does the Futon stays in place on the Kotatsu?

Usually, the top of a Kotatsu beneath which a futon is tucked is not stationary and is primarily kept in place by the weight of the top itself. There are underpads that can be acquired to assist in holding the board in place. Alternatively, the board can be held in place with screws, but this involves drilling holes in the futon underneath, so it is not a very practical option.

What makes a Kotatsu so great?

The first benefit of a kotatsu is undoubtedly its comfort. Indeed, what could be more pleasant than to warm up in front of a movie or a delicious warm meal like nabe or ramen.

Additionally, this piece of furniture creates a friendly atmosphere, even outside of mealtime. In Japan, the whole family meets in the evening to do homework, have dinner, play together or watch a TV show.

kotatsu-blanket
We can add that this style of furniture, although common in Japan, will not lack originality at home. It is an atypical piece of furniture, which will surprise your friends!

As we have seen earlier, the kotatsu heater is energy-efficient and an economical solution for heating. You can use this system to stay warm, without having to heat a whole room. Great savings in perspective. And best of all your fur babies won't leave it! 

cat-kotatsu

dog-kotatsu

Finally, we can say that in addition to the above-mentioned advantages, the kotatsu table also has a very practical side. Depending on the one you choose, you can use it all year round. All you have to do is remove the small heater and the cover when the weather is fine. You can then use it as a traditional coffee table.

The piece of furniture that warmed entire generations

Consisting of a low table under which an electric heater heats up and the whole thing is covered with a thick blanket called futon, the kotatsu is widely used in Japanese homes where the family gathers to eat, read or watch TV.

It allows to keep the heat in a cold room. In Japan, the houses are not all well insulated yet, so it can be very cold in winter in some rooms due to the architecture of Japanese homes.

japanese-kotatsu

Developed in the 14th century, the kotastu consisted of a fireplace dug into the floor of the house called irori. This fireplace was covered with a table and a blanket to contain the heat. Rather dangerous, with the very frequent fires, the fire is replaced by coal.

It is only with the emergence of electricity and electric heating appliances that the system evolved in the 20th century. The heating system is placed directly under the table and can now be plugged in anywhere.

The Kotatsu of today is much more design thought, round, square, extended to fit your interior decoration. Some kotatsu tables are even made to order.