This solves the one and only problem with Japan’s amazing heated tables.

The Osaka Wheel, located in the city of Suita, Osaka Prefecture, is Japan’s tallest Ferris wheel. 123 meters (403.5 feet) off the ground at its highest point, the Osaka Wheel provides stunning views of the surrounding scenery, and soon it’ll provide something even more wonderful: the warmth of kotatsu and hot sake.

Next month the Osaka Wheel will be starting its Kotatsu in the Sky service in which a number of its gondolas will be outfitted with kotatsu. Arguably one of the greatest innovations in Japanese interior design, kotatsu are tables with heaters attached to the underside and a thick blanket sandwiched between a two-layer top, creating a paradise pocket of continually warm air you slide your feet, legs, and forearms into.

The Osaka Wheel’s kotatsu gondola

Really, the only downside to kotatsu is that once you sit down at one, odds are you’re not going anywhere for quite a while, on account of how cozy they are. Putting a kotatsu on a Ferris wheel cleverly solves this problem, though, since you can stay seated and warm while the gondola rises into the sky and comes back down on its circuit, which in the case of the Osaka Wheel is a leisurely 18-minute ride. The gondola interior is also decorated with faux-shoji paper screen sliding doors, to give it an old-school Japanese house vibe.

Of course, if you’re not sitting down and relaxing for that long, you may as well have a drink, right? Kotatsu gondola passengers are also served a bottle of Kuromatsu Kenbishi, a sake made by Kobe brewer Kenbishi Shuzo, which was founded in 1505. In keeping with the warmth of the kotatsu, the sake is served astukan (heated sake) style.

▼ The 180-mililiter (6.1-ounce) bottle isn’t likely to get you full-on drunk, but it’s a nice amount to sip over an 18-minute Ferris wheel ride.

And if you’re having a drink, why not have some snacks too? Here again, the Osaka Wheel has thought of your needs and provides kotatsu gondola passengers with hot canned oden, a mixture of vegetables, fish sausage, eggs, and other simmered foods that’s especially popular in winter.

But again, as mentioned above, the potential problem with kotatsu is that it can be hard to ever convince yourself to leave one. Accommodatingly, the Kotatsu in the Sky package is also available in a two-circuit format that lets you ride for two rotations of the wheel, which takes 36 minutes.

The one-rotation package, with sake and oden, is priced at 2,000 yen (US$13.45) per person, and the two-rotation plan at 2,500 yen. If you just want oden, with no drink, those are discounted to 1,500 and 2,200 yen. It’s also possible to choose a non-alcoholic beverage as a replacement for the sake in the drink-inclusive plans, in case you’re riding the Ferris wheel with children or adult non-tipplers.

▼ Artist’s rendition of the Kotatsu in Sky (actual families will not transform into manga characters)

All in all it promises to be a much more laid-back and nerve-soothing experience than that time the Osaka Wheel was taken over by zombies.

Maximum capacity for each Kotatsu in the Sky gondola is six people, and reservations can be made for times between 11 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. (hey, if your schedule allows you enough time to ride a Ferris wheel before noon, you probably have enough time for an a.m. drink too). The kotatsu gondolas will be available from December 2 to February 29, and reservations can be made online here.

Source, images: PR Times
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