Japanese Culture: Kotatsu (Table Heater)

If you ever watched anime or japanese movie, probably you already saw kotatsu on the scene. Basically, kotatsu is an electric heater that placed below a low table and cover with futon (a quilt or heavy blanket). You just need to put your lower body inside the futon where the heat traps to warm your body.

Kotatsu heater

History of Kotatsu

Before kotatsu invented, Japanese were using hori-gotatsu. Generally, they were using a charcoal from the hearth called irori as a source of heat. Hori-gatsu formation was slightly changed in the Edo period during the 17th century. These changes consisted of the floor around the irori being dug-out into the ground in a square shape.


The wooden platform was placed around this, making a hearth. Then the blanket was placed on top of the platform again. By doing so, they can sit with legs inside the hori-gotatsu to stay warm.


After horigotatsu, they invented okigotatsu. The difference between horigotatsu and okigotatsu is the charcoal placement. Charcoal on horigotatsu has to be placed on the irori so it is not moveable. Meanwhile, okigotatsu is the opposite, they put the charcoal on an earthen pot. In that way, the charcoal is moveable and can be placed anywhere in the room.

In the middle of 20th century, they changed the charcoal with an electric heater. Also, they attached the heater directly under the table which made it easier. Most of the household in Japan still use this type of kotatsu as a heater.

It is simple technology, yet so useful especially during the winter. That’s why many anime or Japanese movies usually show kotatsu because it is part of their culture.


May is the one and only person behind mayrealm.com. He lives in Bali, Indonesia and loves Kpop, Kdrama, Anime, and Games That is why you can find many posts related to those topics. He would like to share his little world through the website.

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