In the mountain villages of Japan, it is not uncommon to rip off the paper from the shoji screens of guest houses in winter and find that there is no outer layer of glass at all, let alone double glazing. It is the large overhanging eaves and the loose screen of reeds leaning against the eaves that keep the snow falling outside from reaching the paper of the shoji. But to dismiss the Japanese room as uncomfortable is to ignore certain important features of action and furniture. In Japanese households, after a bath, it is common to put on a padded cotton jacket (hanyu), as the padded cotton lining provides excellent insulation. You can then squat down and slide your feet under the kotatsu for warmth. This style of heating is a far cry from the Western concept of central heating and is not compatible with loft insulation, cavity wall insulation or double glazing. Kotatsu heating is used as a means of keeping warm and is compatible with hot baths, half-dressed and hot water bottle-warmed bedding.

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