Life Abroad

Heating & AC

Living through the seasons in Japan can be miserable, particularly in the winter and summer. The biggest complaint from foreign residents is that winter is too cold and summer is unbearably hot.

So how do you deal with the temperature extremes in an apartment with paper-thin walls and seemingly no insulation?

Look through this section to learn more about the most popular ways to stay warm during the winter and cool during the summer in Japan.
Select a category from the left or scroll through to see the whole section.

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1. Heating and AC in Japan


Central heating is very rare in Japan. Most homes and apartments are equipped with combination heating/cooling/dehumidifying units like the one in the image below. It is not uncommon for a house or even apartment to have more than one unit, as a single unit is designed to heat/cool/dehumidify one room.

These combination units have two parts: The main unit outside (balcony, yard, or roof) that does the work, and the dispensing unit inside that controls the air flow. Typically, when there is more than one unit inside a house or apartment, there is also more than one unit outside.

Modern combination units have a variety of functions including air filtration, automatic cleaning, and dehumidification, but older units typically only have heating and cooling functionality.

Japanese source:

2. Kerosene Heater

Kerosene heaters are commonly used in the winter to save on electricity costs. You can get kerosene at a gas station or kerosene delivery trucks in some areas.
If you live in an apartment or otherwise rent your residence, you should check your lease or renter’s agreement for conditions on kerosene heaters.
These heaters are often not allowed in rental properties as they pose a potential fire threat.
If your lease allows you to use a kerosene heater, be sure to have proper ventilation in your apartment or house and keep the area around your heater free of any items or debris.

Kerosene can be stored in this type of plastic gas can.

Japanese source:

3. Electric heater

Electric space heaters are a great alternative to kerosene heaters, and are typically allowed in rental properties as they do not use gas.
They are quiet and heat up quickly, but be careful about what is around the heater, as cloth or other flammable items that come into contact with the heating elements could catch fire. Generally, leave a wide space around all sides of any space heater, electric or gas, to reduce the risk of fire.

Japanese source:

4. Electric blanket

Washing in the washing machine is possible.
Body size: vertical 140 × horizontal 80 cm (Regular size YMS-13)
Body size: vertical 188 × horizontal 130 cm (Large size YMK-21)
• Main body weight: 0.7 kg
• Material: 100% polyester
• Power consumption: 55 W
• Electric charge estimate (per hour): weak = about 0.09 yen, medium = about 0.49 yen, strong = about 0.83 yen (calculated as 27 yen per 1 kW / h)
• Surface temperature (indication): weak = about 20 degrees, medium = about 36 degrees, strong = about 52 degrees (Celcius)
• Power cord: flat vinyl cord
• Safety device: thermal fuse
When using an electric blanket, place it between two blankets for best results. Do not lay the electric blanket directly over yourself as there is a risk for low-temperature burns while you sleep.
There should always be a buffer blanket between you and the electric blanket.
Avoid creasing the heating elements that run throughout the blanket to maintain its safety and effectiveness.

Japanese source:

5. Yutanpo – hot water bottle

When using a hot water bottle, be sure to wrap it with a special cover or thick cloth to avoid touching the skin directly.
Also, to prevent low temperature burns, be careful not to have prolonged physical contact with the hot water bottle.
Low-temperature burns are burns that occur when the same part of the skin is in contact with a warm object for a long time.

Even if it feels comfortable (a temperature slightly warmer than the body temperature), the heat will extend to the deep part of the skin. The temperature of the skin in contact with hot objects and the time it takes to get burned are approximately as follows.

● 3 to 4 hours at 44 °C
● 30 minutes to 1 hour at 46 °C
● 2 to 3 minutes at 50 °C (Source: Yukio Yamada, "Product and safety No. 72" on low temperature burns)
Should you experience low temperature burns, seek medical attention.

Japanese source:

6. Microwavable Yutapon

Microwavable Yutapon is a microwavable gel heating pad made for cold feet. Fold the pad in half and microwave for 3 minutes. When it’s done, open the pad and fold it back in half the other way so that the part that was inside before is now outside.

Microwave for 3 more minutes. When it’s done, take it out of the microwave and insert it into its protective cover. You can now put it at the end of your bed to keep your feet warm.

Japanese source:

7. Kotatsu

Kotatsu, or heated tables, are very commonly used in Japan in winter. These tables have a heating element on the underside, and a removable top under which a large kotatsu blanket can be placed.

Kotatsu can be very warm and relaxing, but it is important not to fall asleep under one so as not to get burned.

Japanese source:

8. Hokkairo (Disposable warmer)

Regular (Left) Hokkairo
Sticky type (Right) sticky_hokkairo
Hokkairo is a disposable warmer that utilizes the oxidizing action of iron powder. Each warmer contains iron powder that oxidizes when removed from its airtight package and generates heat.

They come in many different varieties, from sticky ones to stick in between clothing layers, to large and mini size to put in your pockets, to small sticky kinds to put on your socks.
Regular: Duration about 20 hours
Sticky type: Duration about 12 hours

Japanese source (Regular type):

Japanese source (Sticky type):


1. Fans

While many people use the cooling function of their combination heating/cooling units in the summer, to save resources and money, many people opt for fans instead. They can be purchased at any home goods store, electronics store, or on Amazon.

Modern fans often come with a variety of functions as well, including a high range of wind strengths, oscillation, timer, and remote control.

Japanese source:

2. N cool bed cover





(Left: bedsheets)
Machine washable, antimicrobial, cooling mattress pads are very useful in the hot summer.
They dry very fast when wet from sweat or washing, and the material helps keep you cool while you sleep. Cooling pillow pads are also available.

(Right: blankets)
These light, cooling blankets are another great product for summertime sleeping. One side is the smooth, cooling material (great for hot, muggy nights), and the other side is fluffy and slightly warmer (for those nights that aren’t so humid). These blankets are machine washable and dry very quickly.

Japanese source:

The following products are often used by working people, students, and athletes to stave off sweat and body odor in the hot, humid Japanese summers.


Facial Paper sheets


Body Paper sheets


(Left: Facial Paper sheets )
Gatsby Facial Paper sheets are great for refreshing your face on a hot and sweaty day. These cooling sheets will remove oil, sweat, and dirt, and leave your skin clean with a light, smooth powdery layer to make your skin feel good. The sheets are 100% cotton sheets can be used even behind your ears and on your neck to refresh yourself.

Japanese source:

(Right: Body Paper sheets)
Gatsby Deodorant Body Paper sheets help you cool off and feel clean on hot, sweaty days. The sheets absorb sweat and oil and leave behind a cool minty feeling, and a deodorizing powder to keep you fresh.

Japanese source:


Facial Paper sheets


Body Paper sheets


(Left: Facial Paper sheets )
These 100% cotton sheets can be used on your face and neck to absorb oil and sweat. They also contain menthol to help you feel cool and refreshed.

Japanese source:

(Right: Body Paper sheets)
Men’s Biore Deodorant Body Sheets help you control sweat, oil, and odor on your body during the summertime. They contain menthol to help you feel cool and comfortable, and a fresh scent to help with odor.

Japanese source:

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