Dec 4, 2014

A guide to heaters in Japan

Most homes in Japan aren't equipped with central heating, so people typically rely on space heaters and similar items. Now, we all know that wearing some extra clothes and warm fleece is a good way to avoid turning the heat all the way up, but most likely you will need a heater at some point.

Also, most of the heaters below have timers and auto-turnoff options in addition to running constantly. They also often have automatic shutoff features such as if the heater fell over.

*Keep in mind another way heater might be written is 電気ストーブ (denki stobu).
*The word used for "heating" is 暖房 (だんぼう, danbou).

A guide to heaters in Japan

1. Aircon - エアコン

The air conditioner is commonly known as an aircon in Japan, and most aircons are equipped with a heating function. So, if you have an aircon, you may want to check that out (look for  Danbou "暖房" function). From experience I know it does a pretty good job heating a room, although I found that all the heat rose to the ceiling which was somewhat pointless if you spend most of your time sitting on the floor and don't have a ceiling fan.

The aircon might be incredibly expensive. Some are much more energy efficient (look for shyoene 省エネ on the outside or description). Aircons are also one of the more expensive options, considering that most will be ¥30,000 - 40,000 and up, depending on the size and brand.

2. Oil heater - オイルヒーター

This heater is the one that looks like a radiator, and though they work really well, they are typically energy hogs. Some are better than others though, so it's best to compare when looking at energy usage. Some of the ones I looked at operate at 1200 watts at the highest level, with an estimated ¥15-20/hour cost to operate (though this varies). Price may range from ¥5,000 - 30,000, though it's possible to find cheaper options at a recycle shop (this goes for all of the following options as well).

Oil Heater

3. Panel heater - パネルヒーター

This heater is shaped like, what else, a panel. I have never used one so can't say how effective they are. The mini ones operate around 300 watts or less, and probably cost hardly more than ¥5-7 an hour. The larger ones vary depending on the size and what level you use them at - I've seen some that claim to only cost 9 yen an hour, and others that average around 15 yen an hour. Mini panel heaters start around ¥3,000, while larger versions run around an average of ¥20,000 - ¥30,000.

Panel heater

4. Halogen heater - ハロゲンヒーター

See picture. Halogen heaters, like other electric heaters, operate at different wattage levels, depending on the heater. Of course you can get smaller ones that operate at around 300 watts or so, or a larger one that operates up to 1200 watts (and a range in between).

Halogen heater

5. Carbon heater - カーボンヒーター

Frequently used at home in winter - typically on the low setting. They look similar to a halogen heater, although claim to heat more effectively than a regular halogen heater. Carbon heater, and it consumes a lot less electricity than our ceramic heater does.

Of course, the cost varies depending on the heater and what setting you operate it on. For example, one that has a max 300 watts only uses about ¥6 an hour. Our heater uses 900 watts at the highest setting, and about half that on its low setting, and honestly I rarely have it on high because it gets HOT and warms you quickly. The reason we chose a carbon heater was because it was so cheap to operate and seemed to do a good job heating. The carbon heater is probably one of the cheapest and most efficient of the electric heaters, though.

6. Ceramic heater - セラミックヒーター

These tend to be more expensive of the space heaters, in terms of energy consumption, but I have seen some that claim energy efficiency. In addition, you can also get ceramic heaters that have built-in air purifiers and/or humidifiers (you can get a nice 3-in-1 for ¥20,000 - ¥30,000). On high, around 1100 to 1200 watts for most of these kind of heaters, the cost typically runs as high as ¥25-30/hour. Estimate the low setting to be about half that.

Ceramic heater with a built-in humidifier

*You can also find electric fan heaters (ファンヒーター), which are similar to ceramic heaters.

7. Kerosene heater - 石油ヒーター (せきゆ, sekiyu means oil/kerosene)

Now, with kerosene heaters you can expect the electricity bill to be very low, though you will have to buy the kerosene. The nice thing is that kerosene is typically quite cheap, especially when compared to electricity, and kerosene heaters are commonly used throughout Japan. If you do not worry too much about the nasty chemicals and  choose to use one of these, be SURE to allow air circulation in your home, such as opening a window. This sounds like defeating the purpose of heating your home, agreeable, but you don't want to die from carbon monoxide poisoning or anything.

*Note: the word for kerosene is 灯油 (とうゆ, touyu), rather than 石油, but the gas heaters all use 石油 in the name. *Also, some heaters are actually called Gas heaters (ガスヒーター) and appear to use the same gas that typical gas stoves use.

Kerosene heater

Happy heater hunting, and as always, stay warm.

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Jul 25, 2014

Event: Vietnamese cooking and Bon-dance festival

Vietnamese cooking and Bon-dance festival supported by

Don't you want to try Vietnamese cooking together??
We are choosing dishes which ingredients we can buy easily in Japan. If you are interested in cross-cultural exchange and foreign food, please apply to this event.
We also welcome the participation of students and families with children.
This month, we will focus on the Vietnamese food. We have invited exchange students from Vietnam, you can even learn some Vietnamese languages. 
We will be cooking 
+ Phở ga - rice noodle with chicken 
+ Nem Ran - fried spring roll 
+ Che - sweet dessert soup
■ Place: Tokyo, Sumida-ku, Bunka  
■ Meeting time: August 2 (Sat) 15:00 - 18:00 
■ Meeting place: Oshiage station A1 exit 
■ Fee : Adult 2,000 yen, Children (6-12 years) 1,000 yen 
■ Belongings: Apron, towels, (also you can buy in the vicinity) 
■ Application : 
■ Others : There will be a Bon-dance festival in this evening, please feel free to join us. You will meet local cozy people and you can learn Japanese typical dance easily from them! 
■ Pictures :You can see the pictures about the last event here!

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Jul 8, 2014

Skilled gaijin

As the number of the highly skilled foreigners has been announce very low in 2013, it seems that finally something is moving in the attempt to get out of the secular and not only geographical insularity of Japan.
A revision to the immigration law has been passed in the upper house of the Diet, according to the Ministry of Justice, Immigration Bureau in December 2011.
The revised law says that foreigners with advanced skills will be eligible for permanent residency after staying in Japan for three years instead of the current 10 years, staring from May 7, 2012. The Sankei shinbun reported.
This policy is going to provide a preferential immigration treatment to highly skilled foreign professionals and is based on points.

Under the points-based immigration system, those foreign who earn 70 points or more will be recognized as “highly skilled foreign professionals”.

Our blog has been moved to please read about Skilled Gaijin