I miss kotasu
I grew up with kotatsu; it's such a symbol of winter in Japan, and it's very family-intimate. Basically, the whole family hangs around this warm blanket table all season long whether you are doing homework, eating dinner, reading, sewing, playing games, or just hanging out. It's the warmest part of the house. My grandparents had the kind where you could open a tatami mat to reveal a lower level, place the heating element, and sit as in a chair with your butt on the floor (legs under the floor level). This is traditional. More modern houses have just flat tatami, and that's not as comfortable for hours of sitting on the floor, but modern houses are way more insulated so there is less need to sit constantly around the kotasu, especially since the invention of heated rugs.
I recently ran across this blog post where Tokyo Kawaii posts about kotatsu, and included the perfect cartoon about it. It's Sazae-san, a comic and cartoon I totally grew up with so much that my cats, Wakame and Katsuo, are the younger sister and brother combo in this series. Everyone knows what I refer to when I share my kitties' names : ) If you think Wakame's hair cut is funny here, well, it was standard; my mom had that when she was small too. The series shows such a lovely (if not idealized) snippet of showa happy family life. You'll hear lots of "samui" which means cold (Tesla knows that word!)
The cartoon is about kotasu, and how everyone huddles around it, never wanting to leave. It brings family members close together. The intro song brings back memories since I heard it so many times. I love their traditional house with the fusuma (sliding doors), although the gender roles portrayed are quite traditional too. I agree with Tokyo Kawaii that Japanese modern houses are less freezing, but there's no central heating so small heating units are still key. Kotatsu is environmentally friendly and maybe the way of the future since central-heating is so wasteful. Either way, for me, it's such a symbol of winter, warmth, and family cuddling. In my ideal house, I'd have a tatami room with a giant table for meals, with the kotasu option. Even now, although we have a sofa and dining table, in evenings with friends, I tend to up on the floor.
hmmn: musings from the far east(erwood)
Big in Japan
Ed the Cat
Anil, the Nigritude Ultramarine
A Full Belly
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