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Saturday, Dec. 8, 2001
Making central heating cool
By AMY CHAVEZ
It's wintertime and I'm huddled under the "kotatsu," the only square meter of heated space in the house. Sitting under the kotatsu is like grilling your limbs under a broiler or sticking your feet inside a toaster oven. I've taken on the two-tone look: blue upper body and red lower.
Why is it that after all these years, the Japanese haven't embraced central heating? The whole family huddling together under the kotatsu seems so old-fashioned, like cave men huddled around a fire. Some people on my island still use a hibachi, a ceramic pot with coals that heat a few surrounding air molecules.
Central heating could be just the thing to revive the economy. If the Japanese were properly introduced to the benefits of central heating, there would be a boost in consumer spending. Once they decided they needed it, they would buy all the heating products. Of course, the products would have to have a Japanese feel to them.
Instead, Japanese companies continue to come up with novelty items, such as robot dogs, that no one needs. Think of all that wasted brainpower to invent a robotic dog when they could have invented:
The house quilt
Green tea insulation
Body temperature gauge
I suppose that not even these inventions would convince all Japanese of the benefits of warming products. After all, there is one easier way of getting warm I haven't mentioned yet. If you live in one of the many houses here made of concrete, it's often warmer to just step outside.