Old-school winter refuge adapted for modern living rooms.

Kotatsu, tables with a heater attached to their underside and a thick quilt sandwiched between a two-layer top, are one of the coziest ways to keep warm while relaxing at home during winter in Japan. There is a drawback to all that toasty comfort, though, which is that kotatsu are generally designed to be integrated into an old-fashioned interior.

The standard kotatsu design is a low, square-shaped table. You’re meant to sit on the floor, like you would in a classical Japanese house, and slide your feet straight in, and there’s usually only enough lateral space for one person to be seated on each side. That’s more or less the opposite of how most modern living rooms, even in Japan, are laid out, where it’s customary to have a sofa where you and your family or friends can sit side by side, often with a TV or monitor on the opposite wall for watching videos or movies together.

But there is a way to have the best of both worlds, and it’s one that’s rising in popularity, according to Home Coordy, furniture and home furnishings group of Japan’s Aeon Retail group. The company makes special kotatsu that are sized and shaped to be used while sitting on a sofa, and they’re seeing a boom in popularity this autumn as people get ready for the cold months ahead.

Since different sofas sit at different heights, these special kotatsu come with multiple sets of legs of different lengths, so you can attach whichever is the best fit for your couch. The rectangular shape provides enough room for two or three people to sit next to each other, and since kotatsu heaters already run off electricity, on fancier models the designers have added in power and USB outlets, so that you can keep whatever devices you might be working or playing with charged up without having to venture out of the warm world you’re tucked into.

▼ You can see the plugs on the right side of the sofa-use kotatsu in this photo.

Prices vary by size, but the table in the photo at the top of this article is priced at 17,380 yen (US$115) through Aeon’s Top Valu online store, and the one pictured directly above is 38,280 through the copany’s Aeon Style Online shop, making them reasonably priced investments against the winter chill. Aeon says they’ve had a spike in sofa-use kotatsu sales recently, with this year’s sales more than double last year’s, and that they’re proving specially popular with people in their 20s and 30s.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a way to enjoy kotatsu outside your home too, Osaka’s got a unique way to do just that.

Source: FNN Prime Online via Livedoor News via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Top Valu
Insert images: Aeon Style Online
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