It Chills My Bones…

In Shimonoseki, the winter is similar to the UK, perhaps even a little warmer. The average low temperature is 6 degrees but it sits around 10 degrees most days. Unlike the UK, the sun is also often shining framing the mountains and beautiful beach near our apartment! Bliss. Yet, the Japanese winter can be a little miserable at times…

In my limited experience from the reasonable South of Japan, the main reason for this is the lack of warm housing / buildings. In Japan buildings, new and old, predominantly do not have double glazing, insulation, or central heating. The result is that our apartment is the same temperature inside as it is out! In fact, a few days ago it was colder inside as the sun was nicely warming outside, but unable to reach us trapped in our little cold cave. Plus, today it started snowing. Just a smattering, but enough to make it feel like hell is freezing over and we happen to live there.

Japan does has some means of dealing with this (though not as effective as central heating and double glazing…) At work, the kerosene heaters and used in abundance. Yet, they provide warmth in a certain area / space only. Plus you get high. Try using the outside toilet at this time of year for a laugh…At home, we have a kutatsu. This is a Japanese table, which has a heater underneath. You buy a huge blanket and the top of the table lifts off for you to place the blanket underneath. This means you can use the table as an actual table, whilst being enshrouded in a big thick blanket and warmed by a heater. However, life cannot entirely be conducted from under the kutatsu and every time you leave it is like taking a cold shower in harsh reality.

We also have the aircon unit, a godsend in summer, blessing us with dry expensive heat in winter. Plus there are the heat packs that last for 15 hours and sometimes are so hot, they burn. I enjoy the burn. Why these have not reached the UK, I will never know! They are cheap, utter genius, and really do last that long. Combine those with a pair of extra thick woolly knitted knickers that add an inch onto your arse (every girls dream) and you will not only look good, but feel slightly warm too.

While we really do appreciate the sunshine and picturesque views of the Japanese winter in Shimonoseki, the constant chill will ensure that I only slightly complain about the heat of the summer this year. I mean, I am still British…




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