Keeping Warm in the Tokyo Winter


     It’s getting to be that time of year again; the heat and humidity of summer is finally fading away, replaced by the cool rains and cloudy days of the Japanese autumn. Soon enough, it will be winter; however, by the time the cold really sets in, it will be a little too late to prepare for it. Here’s a short guide to help you better get your bearings straight and brace yourself for the coming chills.

Photo by note thanun on Unsplash

▎How Cold Is Tokyo?

    For those of us from colder places around the world, Tokyo’s winters can seem downright toasty; in Celsius, it almost never dips below 0 and rarely even dips below the 5-8 degree range (heavens forbid it reaches below 0 fahrenheit!). Because of this, it can be easy to underestimate the colder months; however, it’s important to keep in mind that there are several factors that can make the city seem colder than it is. For one thing, the structure of the city can turn its streets into massive wind tunnels, focusing chilly winds through walkways and alleys. 

Additionally, very few homes have carpeting, instead opting for wood or tatami flooring, which get notoriously cold in the winter. Older homes can also have very poor insulation, making them work almost as refrigerators. It can be a challenge to keep comfortable, but modern conveniences make this task much more bearable.

Photo by S. Tsuchiya on Unsplash

▎At-home tips

    Luckily, the majority of modern apartments and homes come pre-supplied with an AC unit, and these will generally have a built in heating function. However, much like running the AC in the summer, running this heater for long hours in the winter can get costly quite quickly, so it may be prudent to look into other solutions.

For instance, for those with smaller living spaces, a smaller space heater or kotatsu (a type of table with a built-in heater on the bottom) can be an ideal solution to this issue. It will keep you just as warm at a much lower rate of power consumption, and these devices can often be purchased for under $100, especially if you shop used. Additionally, those with a higher cold tolerance can take the age-old fatherly advice and just wear socks and a sweater indoors; while it’s not the most fun or creative, it can be quite cozy when combined with the above.

▎For When You’re Out and About

    The main temperature issues outside the house will come from the wind and/or rain; as such, it is prudent to focus on getting clothes that will protect you from these things. Windbreaker jackets and wind-proof gloves will do wonders for the chilly pedestrian, and they’ll be less cumbersome on the train and/or inside buildings. Speaking of, commercial buildings and train interiors generally ratchet up the thermostat when the weather dips below 15 degrees Celsius, meaning that dipping into a building can be a most welcome reprieve. However, if you’re wearing a bulky coat, a train may end up feeling more like a sauna, so beware!

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