Across centuries, the Kotatsu has been the traditional gathering point for families relaxing and keeping warm together. Sure, central heating is good, but there is nothing like a central point where loved ones come together to stave off the elements. They are also relatively cost efficient. I’m going to aim at answering all of the most commonly asked questions about Kotatsu tables and Japanese heated tables and then introduce some of the best ones available to purchase online. Let’s start by looking at some of the picks for Kotatsu sets.
If you are wanting to see more information about Japanese tables generally see the Japanoscope JAPANESE TABLES PAGE, or to see what you can combine your table with in a room, check out the Japanoscope JAPANESE HOME DECOR page. For a look at what you can sit at the table take a look at our ZABUTON CUSHIONS page.
If you want to find out about just the heater part of these Kotatsu units, take a look at the KOTATSU HEATERS Page.
If you want to see more about KOTATSU BLANKETS AND KOTATSU FUTON look here.
Unlike the vast majority of Kotatsu covers, this one actually looks really stylish and can be a value adding element in your lounge room. Size-wize it suits one -two people.
- Stylish Kotatsu Futon design
- All-in-one set
- Simple and stylish when used as a normal table
- Blanket compact when folded
- Non-slip, washable materials
- Temperature adjustable
- Table protrubes quite a lot, making it more prone to being bumped
- On the small side if used with two people
105×75cm, Height: 40cm
With a wooden table that is stylish with or without the Kotatsu add ons, this is a solid versatile option.
- Stylish table design
- All-in-one set
- Slim heater with protected element
- Adjustable heat
- Warm, fluffy blanket
- Cat designed blanket won’t suit all
- No adjustable legs for storage
This classic square Kotatsu set is traditional with a patchwork design.
- Traditional Patchwork Blanket
- All-in-one set
- Good size and shape for two people
- Classic table design
- Solid wood legs
- Plywood top
- Non-folding or adjustable legs
What is a Kotatsu?
A Kotatsu is a Japanese table with a heater attached to it’s underside that warms up a space enclosed by a blanket underneath.
In other words, a Kotatsu is as close a place as there is to heaven on earth.
What’s good about a Kotatsu?
Relatively cost efficient – rather than heating up a whole house, you just heat up one confined space
- Bring people together in one central location. Board games anyone?
- They combine the most comforting things in the world, heating, bedding and eating. That’s a pretty potent combo.
- They double as an ordinary old coffee table in the warm months
Where did the Kotatsu come from anyway?
People in Japan traditionally sat around an open fire pit in the middle of the house called an irori. You can get a more complete history of the Kotatsu from wikipedia but the short answer is that people started putting a blanket over the hot coals in the pit to trap heat to make a kind of mini sauna to keep warm in winter.
How to buy a Kotatsu outside of Japan
There are several major stores including Kotatsu on Amazon, or for a lot more choice you can check these Kotatsu on Amazon Japan that offer international shipping. In some cases, Aliexpress’ Kotatsu page has Kotatsu listed at prices much lower than you see in other places. All these sights list Kotatsu sets, Kotatsu heaters or Kotatsu blankets/futons.
How much does a kotatsu cost?
Generally speaking, complete sets of a table with heater, a mat and blanket start from around $600, generally you’re going to need to spend a $1000 or for good quality items.
Kotatsu set or mix and match table/heater/futon
There are a couple of routes to take. You can either:
- Purchase a complete set, with all the blankets, table and heating apparatus together, or
- Find and combine the different pieces together yourself.
Both of these methods have pluses as minuses. Obviously buying as a complete set is easier. But the drawback is that you don’t get as much control over the design and feel. Maybe you like the table but not the design or vica versa. Maybe you have a table and you want to put a floor style Kotatsu heater underneath it, or attach one to on the underside of the tabletop.
You will find that if you look through the Amazon Japan store and search for items that include international shipping, the options for Kotatsu futons and blankets is a lot wider than if you only look on an international store or restrict yourself to sets.
It all depends on how particular are and how you much effort you want to put in to mixing and matching. Considering a Kotatsu is likely to be something that is in your household for many years, it is probably worth taking the time to get something you’re really happy with!
What Size Kotatsu Do I need?
Kotatsu For One Person
Recommended size: 60cm x 40cm
60cm on the sides and 40cm depth gives you enough room for using a computer, reading, eating etc.
Kotatsu For Two People
Recommended size: 75-80cm Square, Rectangle on the Long side 90-105cm
A square is generally the best size for two people. 80cm is around optimal, 90cm if you want to stretch out.
Kotatsu For Three People
Recommended size: 80-90cm Square Rectangle with 105 ~ 120cm on the long side
If you get something closer to 120cm you could comfortably use the kotatsu with 4 people, but you can get by with smaller
Kotatsu For Four People
Recommended size: 90cm+ Square, Rectangle with 120 ~ 135cm on the long side
For two children and two adults, a width of 120 cm is about right.
For four adults, you probably want something with a width of 135 cm.
Kotatsu Tables and Room Size
It’s the obvious things that sometimes get forgotten about when making a house purchase. Make sure you look at the measurements in proportion to your room size.
You want to leave enough room for people to freely pass around the Kotatsu, usually at least 60cm.
It is worth actually marking out the space, using a measuring tape, you plan to use your Kotatsu to see how it feels.
Also consider whether you plan to use your table for dining, obviously you’ll want more room at dining table than a table that you will be using more casually.
There are “space saving” style Kotatsu futons that help reduce some of the bulk created by the futon.
What size rug do you need for a Kotatsu?
Generally speaking, you want to put your Kotatsu on a rug that protrudes at least 50cm further than your Kotatsu size.
How tall is a kotatsu table?
If sitting unseated, on a carpet or rug, under a Kotatsu, the recommended table height is around 35 cm. Children will start to feel a Kotatsu as being too high around the 40 cm mark. If you plan to sit at a Kotatsu with a chair or floor sofa, it is best to allow another 5 to 10 cm and go for something around 40 – 45cm in height. So it is good to think about whether or not you plan to use chairs right from the start.
Of late, there are people that use their kotatsu in combination with fairly large sofa style cushions. In this case you may need an even higher Kotatsu of 50 cm or higher.
Some Kotatsu come with adjustable height mechanisms built into their construction.
There are three main types of Kotatsu legs:
Legs that have a hinge that make them foldable and, thus, easy to store away in the hotter months!
Kotatsu heaters of late have started to become a lot smaller than in the past. This opens up the possibility of using your Kotatsu as a normal all-purpose table throughout the year. So having a table with fixed legs is, of course, no problem in this context.
Some Kotatsu have adjustable legs so you can raise the table higher or lower as your needs may be. This is actually more convenient than a lot of people may think as you may want to switch between using your kotatsu with or without it’s blanket or between using chairs and not using chairs over time or depending on the season. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you are being “squeezed in” to a tight sitting space!
Is a kotatsu a fire hazard?
Kotatsu do not represent a significant fire hazard if used correctly. Modern Kotatsu generally have automatic temperature adjustment functionality. In 2017, there were four reports from the Tokyo Fire Department of fires linked to the use of Kotatsu.
There have been cases where incorrect use of Kotatus has led to fires. These are often associated with different items being pushed inside the Kotatus cavity, such as laundry or flammable items that can ignite if in contact with the heating apparatus too long.
The top things to be aware of when using a Kotatsu from a safety perspective are:
(1) Keep cushions and clothes out of the kotatsu
(2) Don’t put furniture on the power cord
(3) Arrange a cord in a way that it is not constantly getting stepped on and damaged
(4) Prevent dust from accumulating on the heater of the electric kotatsu, which can build up and become flammable over time
(5) Turn off the power when not using the kotatsu
As with any kind of heating, using a kotatsu demands a level of awareness.
Can you burn yourself on a kotatsu?
It is possible to sustain low temperature burns from long contact with a kotatsu heating apparatus.
Low temperature burns are those caused by heat sources below 60 ° C. For every 1 degree increase in temperature, the time it takes to get a low temperature burn is roughly halved. If you were to touch something at 44 ° C for 6 hours, you run the risk of getting a low temperature burn.
Low-temperature burns tend to cause burns that run deeply into the skin. Legs, ankles, and heels are particularly susceptible to low-temperature burns as these areas of the body do not perceive pain as acutely as others and often have poor blood circulation.
This means people should take care in spending too long in a Kotatsu, such as sleeping for long periods of time.
What converter would you use for a kotatsu heater
Voltage in Japan is 100v, so if you buy a Japanese made Kotatsu you would need a power converter or transformer to convert to 120v for North America, 230v for Central Europe or 240v for Australia.
How do kotatsu work?
Kotatsu have a heating unit installed underneath the top table which heats up the space underneath the blanket and table top.
Most commonly, Quartz Tube Heating units are used. Halogen heaters are also popular due because they are quick to heat up.
Heaters are relatively these days, especially in the flat heater type which aim at entirely doing away with any protrusion under the table whatsoever. Check out the Japanoscope Kotatsu Heater page for more information.
What blanket to use for a kotatsu?
There are basically three types of blanket, called futon, that people use with Kotatus in Japan; Thick (atsugake), thin (usugake) and space saving (sho-supesu).
The thicker the blanket, the more warm and luxurious. The drawback is that they are bulky, heavy and more difficult to store.
Thinner blankets are easier to get in and out of and take less room to store.
Space savers have thin material at the corners so that they take up the least space.
Can you sleep under a kotatsu?
It is a widely held belief in Japan that sleeping in a kotatsu leads to catching a cold. This is a difficult phenomenon to study clinically, so there is little solid medical evidence to support the commonly held view. Theoretically there is plenty of medical evidence that links changes in body temperature with various ailments. So the idea that you sleep with half your body in a highly warm space and half in a cold space could lead to you being more susceptible to sickness has some logic to it in theory. The main concerns that have been voiced about sleeping under a kotatsu are:
- Dehydration from sweating so much during the night leading ailments such as constipation.
- Lower body temperature becomes higher than upper ⇒ sweating leads to dehydration ⇒ blood thickens ⇒ Blood clots form more easily ⇒ Increased risk of strokes or heart attack
- Risk of burns from body parts resting against warm-hot surfaces over a long period of time.
How does kotatsu top stay on?
Generally speaking, the table top of a Kotatsu with a futon inserted beneath it is not fixed and is mainly held on by the weight of the tabletop itself. There are underlays that can be purchased to help grip the top. It is possible to also hold on the top with screws, but this requires putting holes in the futon underneath, so is not a popular option.
What cushions to use with Kotatsu?
Kotatsu cushion or zabuton sizes are generally best at around 50 cm or more larger on each side than the width and depth of the kotatsu. This allows the cushion to be equal to the space that the blanket covers when hanging out from the kotatsu.
For a 80 cm x 80 cm square kotatsu, the cushion space should be about 180 cm x 180 cm.
It also depends on how much you want to sprawl out. If you want to lay down, you will, of course, need more cushioned space!
There are also Kotatsu that are designed to save space by eliminating any slack in the corners by draping. These have thick blanketing where you want warmth and thinner material at the edges and corners where thickness is not needed.
75 x 75 x 38 cm
This classic chabudai-style Kotatsu Japanese floor table is made of high-quality luxury wood and is stylish enough that you can use it the whole year. It’s a great option if you are after a round table for one to two people. It a pinch, you could squeeze up to four people around up, but not particularly comfortably.
- Stylish year round use
- Circular design comfortably accommodates one to two people, can take up to four less comfortably
- Includes a screw to keep table top in place
- Easy to assemble.The table is easy to set up and can easily be assembled by anyone with no technical skills or tools. It features a temperature adjustment knob for the heater.
- Bring your own favourite futon or kotatsu appropriate blanket
- Power-efficient quartz tube heater.
- Not a complete set, need to find own blanket/mat
- On the small side if needed for family use
- Need power converter
This table has distinctive panel style legs that give it a modern feel. The circular table measures 80 centimeters in diameter, so would be best for around two people. It has a unique a double-decked table top which makes it relatively stable when used as a Kotatsu with a futon. The fitted heater is compact and easy to install
- Double deck top adds stability to kotatsu
- Compact and easy install heater
- Modern looking, sturdy legs
- Good size for two people
- The legs are not collapsible
- Not Japanese made
105×75cm, Height: 40cm
A Stylish Modern rectangular Kotatsu with table, futon and heater all included. With a long edge of 105cm, this Kotatsu is suitable for 3+ people.
- Rounded edges are sleek, modern, and safe for children and adults alike
- Perfect size for three person family, but also usable for four
- Stylish wooden piece appropriate for use as a year-round table
- Natural or dark finish available on wood
- Relatively bulky
- Non-removable legs
- Requires power converter for most countries
Oh, and why are oranges associated with kotatsu?
Any talk of Kotatsu in Japan brings up the image of the family sitting around the table eating mandarin oranges and playing cards. So what gives with the oranges?
Mandarin oranges are good for keeping hydrated. A Kotatsu is a bit like a mini sauna, the hotter it is, the more you sweat. Oranges are sweet and juicy and in season in winter. And, you can’t rush an orange. It has to be peeled. Just as you can’t rush the Kotatsu experience, lounging around with family taking refuge from the harsh winter.
Hopefully this article has been able to answer all of your burning questions to do with Japanese kotatsu heated tables. Any of the Kotatsu sets we have listed are solid options if you’re in the market. Buying a set is definitely the easiest way to go if you want to get started with a kotatsu easily. Things like blanket design are quite individual though, so you may want to consider going the mix and match route.
If you are wanting to see more information about Japanese tables generally see the Japanoscope Japanese tables page, or to see what you can combine your table with in a room, check out the Japanoscope Japanese Home Decor page. For a look at what you can sit at the table take a look at our Zabuton cushion page.
Heres to happy times getting toasty at the table!
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Who is behind this site?
I’m Peter Head. I lived in Japan for four years as a student at Kyoto City University of the Arts doing a Masters Degree, have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1).