Thursday, December 8, 2011

Home Life--Japan style

This blog post is alternately titled, "Life without Central Heating", since that seems to determine how life at home is lived in Japan. Life in Japan is a life of opposites--the toilets have remote controls and more buttons than a microwave, but most homes do not have central heating or insulation. In other words, your bottom is going to be warm and toasty but beware when you leave the bathroom! I used to teach in the home of a doctor who had 3 brand-new BMWs but would lug his kerosene heater from room to room, depending on where his girls were doing their homework.
      We have adjusted to life without central heating pretty well. I credit this all to my Dad, who doesn't believe in central heating anyways. Growing up, I can only remember a few times when the heat was turned on--was it on Christmas? So, I learned to enjoy flannel, layering, and sleeping bags. Here's how we do it in Japan:


Cash and Coco after bathtime under the kotatsu. Yes, Coco has fake tattoos and is throwing her signs.

Or as I like to call them "dry hot tubs". Basically the best invention ever--a table with a heater underneath that you cover with a blanket to keep the heat in. Most people have either a kotatsu or a hot-carpet, a rug with a heater underneath that you can sit on.  The Ellises are on the kotatsu team all the way!

Family Bath Time: I think this relates to central heating, because we all want to limit the exposure of wet skin to a non-heated, paper-walled home in the winter. We've adopted the Japanese way of bathing: scrubbing up in the shower and then soaking your scrubbed-clean body in the deep, deep tub full of super-hot water, which is shared by the family. Yep, we all pile in the shower together as a family (our shower is in the school, and it's kind of creepy down there at night!) but Fox and I don't usually bathe with the kids, since we're too big.  We would if we all fit, though.  Sorry, no pictures!

Family Bedroom: Someone once told us that being in Japan is good for your family, since you have to learn to stay in one room at a time, winter or summer.  Very true!  The first time we lived here, Fox and I were crazy sleep-training-obsessed parents and let baby Cash have the bedroom with the heater in it while we slept on unpadded futons in the next room, in front of a bright halogen lamp. For 3 months. Wow.  This time, we all get much better sleep and stay way warmer in the same room.  The kids are on the floor on futons with extra blankets.  We're in our bed. Everyone gets much more sleep and stays warm.  Sounds crazy even to me, but it totally works.

Layering: Japan is the land of layering!  They are all about wool socks on top of leggings on top of "warm-heat underclothes".  All the kids put on their fleece-lined "inside shoes" in the colder months. Japanese layering clothes are big business, and everyone layers!

So that's a slice of home life in Japan--a lot of closeness!

P.S. If you've read this far, here is my 7 month pregnancy pic.  7 more weeks!