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Heating systems installed in the entire house can take a toll on you with high power bills. The ancient Japanese invented a table called Kotatsu that saves on the power cost. The Kotatsu were used to keep the Japanese warm during the cold weather in Japan.
Today, the tables are still popular in Japan. They are also growing famous with people from other cultures because they keep them warm at a minimal cost. Kotatsus are sold in various shops in Japan and worldwide. But if you cannot access one or have no budget for it, you can make your Kotatsu table.
Suppose you are wondering how, then this guide is for you. Do you have a short table in your house like the coffee table? You will need it to make a Kotatsu at home.
The process is easy only if you follow the guidelines given below. You require a few things. In this article, you shall get enlightened on DIY Kotatsu table making. If you have no clue about the Kotatsu and wonder why to use it to warm yourself instead of other means, continue reading for insight.
Explaining the Kotatsu?
It is a low Japanese table with a heating system placed below it. The table also consists of a comforter or futon that covers it. A hard tabletop then gets placed on its top. The olden Kotatsu came small in size. Nowadays, you will see Kotatsu in different sizes.
A futon is a traditional Japanese blanket. Currently, Kotatsu uses them. Modern Kotatsu comes with modern comforters such as a duvet. The robust table top placed on the futon is used to place on anything. It allows the user to work on or use the Kotatsu while enjoying the warmth from below the table.
Because the futon surrounds the table, it traps the heat, maintaining it around the Kotatsu. It helps save energy because you only warm a small room area, which keeps you warm. The Kotatsu also looks unique and comes with an aesthetic appeal.
It is an excellent piece of furniture to boost your interior décor. Despite saving energy, keeping you warm, and making your room look great, Kotatsu comes with other benefits. No wonder the Japanese invented them! Here is an insight into the history of these beautiful pieces of Japanese furniture.
How the Kotatsu Came About
It all started in the 14th C when the Japanese used charcoal to cook their food. They used to dig an indoor fire called irori. The source of energy used in the irori was charcoal.
During the cold weather, the Japanese would place a blanket over irori after preparing their meals. The blanket kept them warm because it could trap the heat from the fire pit. As time passed by, the Japanese developed the irori by making it more compact.
They made it in such a way that they could put their legs around it. Later on, they shifted the irori from a fixed place in their rooms into a container. As a result, they could move the fire around the house as they wished.
They could then place the irori under tables and covered them with futons to trap heat for warming. It was then that the modern Kotatsu version was born. The Kotatsu got modified with time. Today, electricity gets used as a heat source.
The tables became portable and could be transported to many parts of the world. Currently, there exist different designs and sizes of Kotatsu. More improvements are anticipated in the future.
Currently, anyone who comes across the Kotatsu gets excited. The use of Kotatsu is an ancient Japanese practice, but they still use it today. The westerners have also fallen in love with the Kotatsu. It may prompt you to ask why. Here is the reason;
What Makes the Kotatsu Unique and Valuable to the Japanese?
It is not common not to find a Kotatsu in the Japanese household. It is not that the Japanese cannot afford a reliable heating system for their homes, but they prefer the Kotatsu. But why?
First, the Japanese love their culture, explaining why they still use Kotatsu today. As illustrated above, the Japanese Kotatsu backed centuries ago. The Japanese stayed with their culture for an extended period before being influenced by the outside world. The location of their country caused it.
Japan is surrounded by water. Accessing the country by other countries was hard. Also, China was trading with Japan centuries ago but withdrew after some time. It was, therefore, not easy for Japan to get influenced by the outside world.
It allowed the Japanese to bond with their culture. When the outside world was able to access Japan, they had already developed a strong connection with their way of life. Deviating from their culture is hard.
Another reason that makes Kotatsu special is its safe nature. It is not news to the world that Japan is always experiencing environmental calamities like storms and earthquakes. When they happen, the small and low nature of the Kotatsu makes them safe. Large furniture can block the way of a person escaping danger. When thrown by force caused by the disaster, such furniture can injure a person severely.
The Japanese adore the Kotatsu because they fit in their small rooms. Kotatsu saves space in a room due to its small and short nature. Others come in foldable designs that enable easier removal and storage. The Westerners also love Kotatsu because they save space.
Despite being special and adored by the Japanese, Kotatsu comes with a bunch of benefits. In return, not anyone who comes across a Kotatsu hates it. Everyone wants to have a Kotatsu in their homes. Considering the following reasons, you wouldn’t blame them;
Why all People Love the Kotatsu
Its table and heater feature associates Kotatsu with a lot of benefits. They include the following;
Do you have a heating system for your entire home? How soon does it heat your house? What differentiates the other house heating systems from the Kotatsu is the time taken to warm a place.
When you switch on a Kotatsu, it warms the area immediately. It is because it serves a small space, and the futon on top helps maintain the heat.
The modern house heating systems take time before you could feel the warmth. If you want to enjoy the warmth as soon as you enter the house, you should leave the heater working. Most modern heaters are automatic.
You only need to set them then go on your way. On coming back, the house will be warm.
But what happens if your heater is not automatic and it’s quite cold? You will have to endure the cold until after some time. That’s why a Kotatsu stands out in keeping you warm.
Reduced Power Bill
The amount of energy consumed by the Kotatsu is way less than what an entire home heating system consumes. It warms only the table area, and the heat generated is preserved by the futon or comforter.
A Kotatsu is an excellent bonding tool. When people gather around this table, they come closer because of its small nature. While seated around it, they can eat, chat, or do other stuff together. As a result, it brings a sense of belonging.
People are also able to connect more easily. A Kotatsu will help get you and your family, friends, workmates, loved ones, or colleagues together.
A well-designed Kotatsu with a decorated futon pleases the eye. It also enhances the appearance of a room. While inside a room, it acts as a perfect addition to the décor inside.
The traditional Kotatsu comes small and short. When inside a room, you can hardly notice the space it occupies. Other designs make the Kotatsu collapse to create more space. After folding the table, you can keep it away and use the area for other things.
The Kotatsu got invented ages ago. It is a significant symbol of Japanese culture. When used, it keeps the old Japanese way of life alive.
Despite their many benefits, Kotatsu also has some shortcomings. They include the following;
Shortcomings of a Kotatsu
i. Can Catch Fire if Poorly Managed
The Kotatsu have heating units attached underneath. If you tamper with the heating system, you may get burnt. You can also burn the entire house if the heating system is open like a charcoal heater. Liquid heaters are also dangerous when broken.
The spilled liquid such as paraffin can catch fire and bring down the whole room.
That’s why it’s important to monitor pets and children while using a Kotatsu. Both parties love exploring and mostly are not aware of their actions. They could tamper with the heating system, which can be hazardous.
ii. Can Make You Drowsy
The comfort and warmth from a Kotatsu can make you fall asleep unexpectedly. If you have some work to do, you may need to avoid doing it around a Kotatsu. The coziness will not make you concentrate. You will end up drowsy and unproductive!
With the above information, you may want to own one in your home. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the budget because you can make one at home.
DIY Kotatsu tables are best because they get made based on one’s preference. If you are wondering how to build one, check out the following guide;
A Step by Step Guide on How to Make a Kotatsu Table
First, you will require assembling all the following necessary items;
I. A Short-legged Table
Pick a low table with two surfaces, one on top and the other below. You’ll need both surfaces while making the Kotatsu. Most coffee tables are also short, making them fit to make a Kotatsu.
II. A Heat Source
A Kotatsu heater is best to use. But if you can’t find any, you can use an alternative like the radiant heating panel.
III. Power Booster
It depends on the heating source you are using. Some heaters, especially those made for the Kotatsu, may not require a power transformer. But if the heater you are to use needs one, get a transformer ideal for it.
IV. L Bracket Corners
You will need them to attach the Kotatsu heater to the table.
Any ideal comforter like a blanket or duvet will do. But if you need to use the Kotatsu futon, you can order one online or any Japanese store near you.
After collecting all the necessary materials, follow the following steps;
Step 1: Prepare the Table
The table has two surfaces. It would help if you made it ideal for a Kotatsu. Start by flipping it over. Then remove its bottom surface. Take care not to damage the surface as it will be used as the tabletop.
Step 2: Attach the Heating System
After removing the table’s bottom part, attach the Kotatsu heater. First, screw the L bracket corners on the heater’s sides. Then screw them underneath the table. Ensure you position the heater in such a way that it leaves enough space between it and the table. It will prevent accidents from happening.
If using a radial heating panel, attach it beneath the table. The process is simple and quick. You can protect the radiant heating panel or Kotatsu heater by building a frame. Use hardwood for the frame.
Measure the wood to the same length as your table’s bottom. Then fix it below the heater to secure it. Then turn the table to sit upright.
Step 3: Spread a Comforter, Blanket, or Futon over the Table
Pick your preferred comforter or futon and place it over the table. Ensure whatever you use is large enough to drape around the table and cover it entirely.
Step 4: Place the Bottom Surface You Removed from The Coffee Table’s Bottom On Top of the Futon
After placing your futon or comforter on top of the table, place the table’s bottom surface you detached earlier from the table on it. It forms the hard tabletop. It will help you use Kotatsu to eat, place things, or play games with your loved ones.
Step 5: Place the Sitting Pads
You can use whatever you prefer. If you decide to go the traditional way, use mats. You can also use pillows or comfortable pads.
Arrange them properly around the Kotatsu. Currently, there are floor sofas made explicitly for the Kotatsu tables. Pick what you like to sit on while warming yourself in your Kotatsu.
Step 6: Turn On the Kotatsu
If using a transformer, plug it into your wall plug. Ensure the input voltage is correct. If not using a power transformer, plug your heater into your power source. Voila! Your Kotatsu table is complete.
Kotatsu comes in different styles. When making one, you need to consider the type you want. The following details will help you choose a style that suits your needs and preference.
a) Round Kotatsu
The traditional Kotatsu came circular. The round design was symbolic.
The Japanese used round-shaped Kotatsu to bring families together. During mealtime, members of the family would sit around the Kotatsu.
Because a Kotatsu is small and short, it would get them close to each other. In return, families could bond. There was no hierarchy or superiority around the Kotatsu; all were equal. The bond grew stronger with time.
Unlike other types, a round-shaped Kotatsu can accommodate another person easily. Its circular nature makes it flexible. An extra person can easily squeeze in.
b) Oblong or Rectangular Kotatsu
Most tables around the world are rectangular. The best thing about this kind of table is that it fits inside a room easily. Though the number of people the table accommodates is fixed, it can host many of them depending on its size.
c) Square Kotatsu
The squared Kotatsu are great for a meeting or holding dialogue because they symbolize superiority. The person in charge sits at a specific side.
d) The Folding Kotatsu
Some Kotatsu comes with a folding ability. You can collapse and move them to create space. It is also easy to store such tables, for they occupy a small space when folded. You will not require a Kotatsu during summer.
It would be better if you choose a Kotatsu style that’s easy to store and occupies less of your space.
After choosing your Kotatsu style and making one, you can use it in various ways as you warm up. Here is how you can utilize your Kotatsu table;
Other Uses of Kotatsu Table
Other than keeping you warm, you can enjoy your meal on a Kotatsu. You can also catch up with your loved ones by chatting with them around a Kotatsu.
If you are the type that loves having fun, you can play various games on your Kotatsu. You can also perform multiple tasks on your Kotatsu. Avoid activities that can tamper with the heating system as it can be dangerous.
As illustrated above, a Kotatsu is a traditional Japanese table used in Japan and growing fame in the outside world. The benefits of the Kotatsu, as defined above, have attributed to most people embracing these tables.
If you need one, you don’t have to fly to Japan. The long searches around stores or waits after you order online could be exhausting and frustrating. Kotatsu also comes with a budget, and you may not have it.
All these should not worry you. As shown above, making a Kotatsu is a piece of cake. You can make yours. You only need to collect the necessary items and follow the step-by-step guide explained above.
You may also want to learn more on the Safety Precautions when Using a Kotatsu.