*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Wednesday 5 January 2011

They're called 'space-heaters' for a reason.

I am so %$#@ing tired of draughts.  I don't want to roast my legs and freeze my back under a kotatsu, because I don't need eczema concurrent with jock-rot.

I don't enjoy breathing in kerosene fumes and am hoping the 'big one' happens after I leave, or in the summer, so I never learn how napalm feels.  I doubt that a Rube Goldberg contraption is going to vent the fumes, but don't doubt it would also vent the heat.  If I were a positive person...  If someone else were to be positive, they'd be pleased that fifteen-hundred years of Yamato occupation of these islands have allowed them to figure out you shouldn't use burning charcoal under a table, or in an enclosed room.  I suppose kerosene is a small improvement, though don't tell that to the hundreds killed by fire in Kobe.

Since Japanese property-rights are so uncooperative, despite the claims of group-harmony, there's little likelihood of central heating in residential buildings: thus the dozens of unsightly a/c units bolted on the outside walls.  Come to think of it, why do individual homes and apartments have two to ten separate units?  That can't be efficient.  Single-glazed windows?  Uninsulated reinforced concrete?  Don't give me your Japanese crap about Canadian central heating being inefficient!

Here's what you do if you want to be warm winters in Japan and you have to live in one of the local rabbit-hutches.  Buy a couple of the oil-radiator electric space heaters, because they are more efficient, won't burn you as quick, and look retro.  Use your a/c heater too.  Get a 'hot-carpet' if you live on the floor, because it's not as confining as a kotatsu, and even heats some of the air above it.  Draft-proof your home: more curtains, plastic-film on windows or even tacked-up blankets.  Face the fact that you are going to live in one room summer and winter, so maybe a 250 square-foot 1DK is what you want.  South facing is good for winter, but really bad for summer: you cannot win that one.
Your other choice is to live like the locals inside a draughty Japanese home dressed for outside, with chapped-hands and a runny nose, coughing on me with your mouth open on the train.  And blow your damned nose!  I don't care what a culture thinks of using tissue in public, I don't need to hear "sngchhcyutp-sngchhcyutp" all day.  Japanese surprised that Canadians find Tokyo cold?  Well in fewer than a couple hundred years of pale-faces in N. America we did a far better job of learning to live with winter than your people did here in a couple millenia.  Having no fireplaces or insulation doesn't make you 'eco' no matter how many trees or mountainsides we had to burn: it makes you witless.  I'll be 'eco' when the weather allows blood to flow to my brain, and other extremities.

Addendum, 11/01/07:
%$#@ing NHK tonight on the 9:00 news suggested that the rise in home fires this season was because the "air is dry along the Pacific coast".  Air's dryer in central Canada %$#@wits, but we don't have gallons of kerosene burning inside them.  Whatever is the opposite of Occam's Razor, that's Japanese 'thinking', or the Japanese Razor: whenever there is a straightforward solution, that's not 'Japanese culture'.


  1. Finally getting cold and this one brings a smile.

    Stinky sweaty crotch and a frozen face. I'm convinced Japan was founded like 20 years ago and they didn't have Winter until around 1986ish......everything else is propaganda. Japan was created as a buffer between China and everything else is just a myth. That's why so many adults still read manga and can't talk to girls....they must be new!!

  2. The only reasonable explanation I've heard is that traditional buildings were made to deal with the humid summers, before a/c, and were uninsulated so mold would not grow. Like all Japanese justifications this one falls down like a pigeon-toed Kabukicho tramp on stilettos.
    - Japanese don't live in traditional houses anymore
    - traditional houses were once covered in brush for insulation through the winter
    - Japanese have a/c now
    - every other nation builds better climate-controlled modern than traditional houses
    - never heard of a 'vapour barrier'? They have in the Pacific North West, where it is more humid

  3. I've just discovered your blog.
    Lack of insulation is not so much a problem of technology, they have a "cold houses" law in Hokkaido that forces them to build houses like "ours" (=Western).
    The problem is, if you live in Tokyo, you probably noticed they're ALWAYS building something. Which means they're also ALWAYS destroying something.
    That's the reason : buildings are not built to last, so owners don't put the money in "futile things" like insulation from noise or cold.
    As petty as it sounds, everything is about the money, that's all.
    I hate them for that, of course.

    1. Thank you for the comment, and I'd add your blogs to the lists to right, except most of my few readers read even less French than I do.* I know about the reasons for the state of buildings here, but it does not hurt to repeat them.

      *Non-Canadian Anglos having a better excuse than I, alas.