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The kotatsu has been a staple in most Japanese homes for centuries.
This 14th century invention has certainly evolved over time. What began as a fire in a sunken hearth has become a modern table that utilizes heat garnered from electricity.
Much like a campfire draws people to it in the summer months, this heated table brings families together when the weather gets chilly and outside gatherings aren’t as feasible.
Built from a table, blanket, and heat source, a kotatsu is entirely customizable to fit any home’s needs.
Read on to learn all you need to know about kotatsus.
Are kotatsus still used?
Yes, kotatsus are still commonly used both in Japan and by people across the world who are familiar with their many benefits.
Kotatsus nowadays do not look like the kotatsus used in the past.
The kotatsu started off as a sunken hearth in the floor of homes. First used only for cooking, it evolved into a heat source after it was discovered how effective it could be.
In the 17th century families began placing a covering over the charcoal to trap in heat, and they also made a seating area next to the sunken hearth to more easily gather around.
Today the kotatsu is completely modern, with a sturdy and often collapsable table, a blanket or quilt, and an electric heat source.
Can you sleep under a kotatsu?
If you think kotatsus sound comfortable, you’d be right. As a table and heated blanket rolled into one object its calming heat may just lull its user to sleep.
While there is no official warning about falling asleep under a kotatsu, it is important to point out that there might be danger involved.
We tend to move around in our sleep, which means there is a chance you might accidentally bump into the electric heater. There is a chance no harm will come from this – but there is also a chance you could burn yourself, especially if your electric box is old or damaged.
It is not forbidden to sleep under a kotatsu, but be aware that however unlikely it may be, there is the risk that an injury could occur.
Another important factor to note is that while warm and comfortable, the blanket of the kotatsu may not be long enough to cover someone who is fully stretched out. Unless you enjoy staying curled up, it may be best to stick to your bed!
Do kotatsus use a lot of electricity?
Due to its strong insulation and small heating area, kotatsus are an affordable way to make sure the people in your home stay warm.
Kotatsus do not use a lot of electricity, especially when compared to heating an entire house.
Kotatsus heat only the area under the blanket, so an excess amount of electricity is not being used to keep people warm.
Kotatsus are known for keeping people warm, not the house itself.
What goes under a kotatsu?
Kotatsus are tables with an overlaid blanket that traps in the heat that emitted from the electric heat source.
As such, the only thing that needs to go under the kotatsu is the heating box (read more on the best kotatsu heaters).
But if you’re worried about comfort while sitting on the floor, many people add pillows or cushions to soften the area.
Simple cushions called zibuton can be bought for under the kotatsu. These special cushions are designed well for the kotatsu, as other cushions may be too thick.
The table of the kotatsu is typically the height of a normal living room table, so there is not much room for both a cushion and a body.
Another option for under the kotatsu is the zaisu. The zaisu is a special cushion designed for sitting on floors. It has a normal chair bottom and back rest, but it does not have legs.
Are kotatsus safe for cats?
Cats are agile creatures, but no one ever wants their furbabies to get hurt.
Luckily, kotatsus are safe for cats.
Whether they like sitting on top or under the blanket and close to the heat, the kotatsu should pose no threat to cats.
As long as the cats do not become trapped under the blankets, a kotatsu is a great source of heat for your cute pets.
Check the video below to see how cats like kotatsus.
Are kotatsus worth it?
Kotatsus have many benefits for those who use them.
Not only are they an ideal gathering spot for family and friends, they keep you cuddly and warm without running up the electricity bill.
These special tables provide heat for those who use it, without having to heat up the entire room to do so.
Kotatsus are a great option for those looking to gather with friends or family during the dreaded colder months. You can read our other article on where to find a kotatsu in the United States.
They are customizable and foldable, so you can choose the kotatsu that works for you and your space.
Try out a kotatsu today! I’m sure you’ll love it.