Particularly trendy and emblematic of Japanese culture, Kotatsu has won over many followers around the world. What is it really for? Small debriefing on this furniture which would almost push you to hibernate all winter …

Kotatsu? What is that ?

It is in fact a wooden table under which is installed an electric heater. The whole thing is covered with a blanket (also called a futon) which is fixed between a board and the table. In the past, Kotatsu was used by Japanese households. Operating on coal at the time, this rather special table represented the main source of heat. We sit around it on zabuton which are themselves placed on the tatami mats (the same coating used when practicing Japanese martial arts). But beyond its undeniable usefulness, the Kotatsu also offered very good moments of sharing within a family since the Japanese could drink tea on the table or simply chat while staying warm. The spirit of this original and atypical furniture in the eyes of Westerners has been preserved over time. We can also see its success far beyond the borders of Japan.

A wide range

If it is particularly present in the Japanese tradition, the Kotatsu is available in several models. The most classic, called Oki-gotatsu, consists of a table placed on the ground. Therefore, it is necessary to bend or lengthen your legs to sit. There are also models where a space is left under the table so that you can sit like a chair. More recently still, a Kotatsu dining has appeared. In this case, it is no longer a coffee table but a high table with chairs. We are moving away from the Japanese tradition, even if the principle remains the same. Note also that various shapes of tables and different sizes are available on the market. It only remains to buy the right Kotatsu. Blanket, table within easy reach,… This creation has it all, except perhaps its price. For a low-end version, it takes a hundred euros. However, it will be necessary to add at least an additional zero to afford a quality Kotatsu.

In theory, you no longer have any reason to say “Watashi wa samui desu” (“I’m cold”) when you are at the table…

Japanese kotatsu table

Photo 1: Marieve Inoue
Photo 2: Jerich Abon

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