okay. i am fully aware of the fact that most places in the united states are covered with snow at the moment. and also that there have been consecutive snow days in Nebraska, at least. so for those of you reading, you might think from your circumstances that “survival” is not the right word to use in appropriation to the sunny, temperate winter of shizuoka. (average temps between 30-50F.) however, i have a case to make, so here i go.
we don’t have double-pane windows. we don’t have insulation in our walls. we don’t have central heat/air. we don’t have any carpet. we run heaters only while we are in the room, so during the daytime, only the three downstairs rooms that we use the most often (living, dining, kitchen) are heated, and when we leave the house during the day, leave the rooms for more than 20 minutes, etc, we turn the heaters off — meaning the rest of our house is cold. ALL THE TIME.
i wake up in the morning, and its 37F in my bedroom. i can see my breath. while i’m brushing my teeth in the bathroom, i can see my breath. getting out of the shower is murder! so while there are flowers on the doorsteps of my neighbors and we play in the sun every day after youchien, we freeze inside. this was quite a contrast from the freeze-your-nosehairs cold outside, so-warm-you-can’t-really-wear-sweaters inside winters in nebraska. so here’s my list of must-haves and must-dos in order to stay warm here.
- i get out of bed and immediately put on socks and my huge, comfy, but not-so-attractive robe. i wear this robe all morning, until the downstairs is comfortable enough to change into clothes for the day. i should mention that my husband hates this robe.
- i always carry my clothes downstairs and change right next to a heater — i’m too much of a weanie to change in our cold bedroom.
- i wear a sweater every day, with about two other layers underneath (tank top and a long sleeve shirt, etc). i hardly ever wore sweaters in nebraska — i found that they made me hot, but they are a necessity here. wearing only a long-sleeve shirt is COLD.
- knee-high socks and long johns.
- i have hard-bottomed slippers on all the time. the wood floors are chilly, and i was surprised what a difference it made to not go about the house in only socks.
- we use an electric blanket to warm up our bed at night. i probably turn it on an hour or two before we go to bed to make the sheets mildly warm, and turn it off when we sleep (unless its a REALLY cold night). we use similar things for the boys’ beds, but they don’t seem to notice the cold as much as we do.
- i fill up a nalgene with boiling water and take it to bed with me to help me get warm and fall asleep quicker. it usually ends up near my feet somewhere. on really cold nights, my nose is cold, but everything else is warm at least!
- take hot baths at night to warm up the body before bed.
- very rarely drink cold beverages — always have tea or hot water, soup, etc. don’t use our ice maker at all during this season.
- lotion lotion lotion to help keep my hands from getting chaffed!
we don’t live in the stacks, so we do own heaters in most rooms, but to run them is costly, so we only do it when we absolutely need to. which is to say we rarely run our upstairs heaters, hence our freezing bedrooms! but we’re learning a lot about how to be “eco” in the winter and find it interesting all the ways the japanese have come up with to stay warm in cold rooms. (heated carpets. kotatsu. heat-creating clothing.)
so there you go! before i moved here, i wasn’t privy to the fact that the houses were so cold, despite the outside winter temperatures being mild — so now you know a little bit more about our life here!