my survival kit for shizuoka winters.

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 carpetskotatsuheat-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!


12 thoughts on “my survival kit for shizuoka winters.

  1. Wow, I’m simultaneously thinking that would make me cranky and that it sounds kind of fun and cozy to be bundled up all the time. 🙂 How cold does it usually get outside when your house is 37 inside?

    • if its 37F inside, that means its probably 32-35F outside. so since we’ve had a number of really nice days (about 50F), then the temp inside has changed pretty drastically (to about 55F) and we haven’t had to run our heaters as much. so its pretty much the same inside to outside — the only difference is that the heat from the sun is stronger outside, so sometimes when i go to pick up jones at youchien, i don’t put a coat on, i just wear what i was wearing inside, and put on a scarf. i’m usually warmer outside than in, unless its a cold windy day.

  2. Wow, I’m thinking I should stop whining about the miserable Nebraska winter because while it might be below zero outside, its a cozy 70 degrees in my house. If I’m up with kids in the middle of the night when the furnace has kicked down to a “chilly” 67 I think I’m going to freeze to death! I can’t even imagine a 37 degree bedroom!

    • nighttime is awful! needless to say, i’m not very patient about putting ez back to sleep if he wakes up. we usually end up cuddled under a big blanket in the rocking chair.

  3. You don’t live in the “stacks”?

    I’ve kept our house at 62 this winter. We spend most of our time in the family room with the fireplace roaring, so it is warmer in there. My kids complain, but don’t wear socks. Therefore, I refuse to take their complaints seriously. 🙂

  4. Jamie,
    I remember the Witthofts had a small portable heater that they set up in their bathroom. It was usually chilly when they got up and went into their shower because they didn’t turn it on till then but it was ALWAYS toasty afterwards. You could stand in the seminjo (sp?) for awhile and not worry about freezing. I always loved when they invited me over to stay cause they had that in theirs!

  5. makes me remember the moment it hit me back in our shiz days: here in winter, it’s colder in my house than outside! i’m with you….i drink about 5 glasses of near boiling water before bedtime and sleep every night in my hanten (thick blanket like house jacket) and my LLBean down vest coat! LOVE my electric blanket… xoxoxo ka

  6. Jamie, some of your comments sound way too familiar considering we do have a working furnace and heat pump! No insulation in the walls, wood floors mean always wearing slippers (and socks!) for warmth, hot baths are one way to warm up my core temp before bed. We always plug in a space heater in our bath-only bathroom, otherwise it’s a very unpleasant winter experience.

    I so wish I could see where you live and have a cup of coffee with you and watch that new baby grow in your tummy. I’m glad you blog. 😀

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