Preparing for Winter

December 4th, 2012By Category: Culture

I wrote two different guides about surviving winter in Japan in my blog, as in Part I and Part II.

After three winters in Japan and preparing for a fourth one (am I becoming a lifer?!), I think I covered the basics and can give adequate advice- after all, I’m Canadian and our winters make the Japanese ones pale in comparison. Sadly, the lack of insulation in Japanese homes and buildings make even the mild winter temperatures completely unbearable.

This winter, I’m adding a few things to my usual list of winter essentials:

– an electric blanket (I sleep on top of it, as a mat rather than a cover up)

– a Nishikawa blanket (the best Japanese brand for blankets, found at department stores)

– lots of Uniqlo HeatTech layers (I love the scoop neck undershirts, and leggings)

– wool tights (MUJI has a great selection)

– a humidifier (my first time owning one, does wonders to my parched skin!)

– nabe meals (I want to eat it every night! See my recipe here

– lots of wool sweaters (Uniqlo has 100% lambswool cardigans for very cheap)

– a proper winter coat and fur lined boots (yea… as I’m getting wiser, I forgo style for comfort)

– lots and lots of water (the warm blankets and the dry winter air is so dehydrating)

– green tea, hot cocoa, mulled wine, and all those delicious hot beverages

– hot patches (you can buy them almost anywhere and stick them to your body to stay toasty)

– a space heater (much cheaper than using the air conditioner, and less drying)

I’m determined to have a comfortable winter this time, and thankfully my new apartment is naturally warm. I also love to ride my bike in the winter and do outdoors activities. A few days ago, I went to the  Edo-Tokyo Architectural Museum, which is located outdoors. They display all kinds of traditional Japanese houses from the Edo and Meiji eras, and the best part is, you can enter all the homes and look at everything closely.

The museum is like a small town, featuring a village complete with noodle shops, a liquor shop, a public bathhouse, and a police box. I had so much fun entering all the buildings and pretending to live there, it gave me an old Tokyo feel. My favourite house was an old, wooden home from the Edo era, which featured a large and understated tatami room. I wish I lived there!

Maybe winter will be fun and toasty this time.

Photos by Maaserhit Honda

Author of this article

Vivian Morelli

Vivian Morelli hails from Canada and is a journalist based in Tokyo, where she writes about culture, fashion, food and music. You can read her Japan musings at

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