Layers

Today was the coldest day in this winter so far, with the maximum temperature at 6 degrees only. It was raining all day, not improving the temperature at al. So – a good reason to snuggle up at home. Technically at least, because the “snuggling up” part would imply that it is warm at the place where you’re doing it…

Which it is not. I probably said it before, Japanese houses – old and new alike – are made for summer, where every breeze is a relief, and not winter. Here, the walls are maybe 10 cm thick, essentially made out of dirt on a wooden frame. Here and there are cracks in the walls through which you can see the outside, and the windows – single glazed – don’t close properly. I’m glad I live on the top floor though, because the floors on the ground floor below consist only of simple wood boards laid down without any further insulation. The tatami do help a little, but not enough – there remain the cracks between them.

Of course, there is no central heating in the house. Every guest room has a small electric space heater, but it is more to take off the worst edge rather than to heat the space properly. Something else I do have in my room is an electric hot carpet, similar to an electric blanket, just for underneath. I put my futon on top and turn the carpet on (reading this again it sounds very funny, but that’s the way it is…) before I go to sleep for that extra toasty ffour layers of blanketseeling. As the cold seeps in from the top, however, I am now using four blankets – a thin sheet, a thin blanket and two thicker winter blankets. I feel like a veritable princess on a pea – just in reverse. So far, I can still sleep wearing only a T-shirt and socks, but I have a thick pyjama ready for the really cold nights.

Except for the computer room, the other rooms in the house have no heating at all – and that includes the bathroom… I have taken to very long and very hot showers, a big relief. One of my housemates – her room is on ground floor – essentially wears the same stuff in- and outdoors now. I’m not quite there yet, but I spend a lot of my time either in bed or with a thick blanket wrapped around me. Occasionally, I wear gloves to keep my hands warm when typing. My other housemate says it will get worse in February – I wonder how far I’ll have to go to stay warm…

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