|Naked Man Festival : Japanese runners representing the feeling you will get reading this article||.|
The Japanese have such a multifaceted society. They are at once global and parochial, fraternal and isolating, uber-modern yet archaic. All of these features manifest in positive ways; the modernity of Japan can be summarized in their ground-breaking technologies while the archaic side reflects the wealth of their heritage accessible to many. In a large contrast, some of these facets have negative sides (cue dramatic, bleak music that plays to the end of this article).
In fact, Japan's booming technology makes a joke of their archaic heating systems. Back in Japan, I wrote a blog on Catching One's Death from the winter cold. In America, the truth is that those who don't have central heating are poor. In Japan, those with central heating are probably rich. But central heating isn't generally a coveted item for the Japanese (as for the ex-pats, it is). In fact, although many Japanese will complain about how samui (cold) it is, they are very accustomed to their thin walls, high electric bills, and walking around their house generally a little bit cold.
Also, there's the kotatsu idea. It's a table with a heater underneath and over it is draped a blanket--so you imagine sleeping under it would be a good idea. It looks so cozy! Then you wake up as if from a drug binge with a soar throat and body aches. The table is designed so that you can heat your legs the entire time you sit under it. The problem is, sitting under the table is the only time you have heat, unless you are pumping kerosene into other heaters strategically placed in your house (also requiring electricity).
|The kotatsu seems like a great idea, until you want to get up. (photo)|
According to architectural adviser Keiji Ashizawa, [...] "Only in Hokkaido is there such a thing as the Law on Cold Residences, and the Government Housing Loan Corp. gives financial assistance to homes protected against the cold. They say that people from Hokkaido catch colds when they come to [southern places like] Tokyo, because they traditionally live in houses insulated and warmed through central heating."Now, I generally am a complainer but the ubiquitous Japanese cold really takes the cake for aggravations. I love winter, and even play sports in the cold, but sitting still in a barely-heated room is like torture. Interestingly enough, most Japanese students endure this torture every winter. I remember my feet being so cold for so long in schools that some of my toes wouldn't contract right. If that doesn't sound impressive for heating mishaps, try walking without three of your toes.
Now go read that Japan Times article.