Japanese kotatsu table-History of the Japanese Heated Tables


Japan is one of the countries with an extremely harsh climate. In winter, the temperature often drops to minus degrees, and the difference compared to summer is up to 30 degrees Celsius. At this time, the air is dry and snow falls in many places. In particular, snow falls more in the north and near the sea, almost white snow in winter. To cope with this cold weather, the Japanese invented a table to warm their house. Are you curious what table it is that is so magical? That’s the Japanese kotatsu table. Let’s learn about this interesting table with Janbox in the article below.

What is a kotatsu table?

The kotatsu heated table is simply a low wooden table, underneath with a heat source (coal or electric), surrounded by a futon or blanket with a flat sheet on top as a dining table or desk. This device has the effect of heating the soles of the feet and lower body, thereby bringing warmth to people during the cold winter. Kotatsu is usually placed on the floor, and you sit cross-legged or stretched under a table with a blanket covering your lower half, keeping you warm.


History of Kotatsu

The history of Kotatsu dates back to the Muromachi period in the fourteenth century. Its origins go back to the Japanese cooking furnace known as Irori. Charcoal is the main cooking method for traditional Japanese homes and is used to heat the irori oven.

In 14th century Japan, a chair was introduced to irori and its cooking function was separated from its sitting function. On the wooden floor, a blanket has been placed, called Oki, which trapped and geochemical the heat of the coal furnace.

The first ancestor of this modern kotatsu was called hori-gotatsu. The word hori-gotatsu is derived from the kanji 掘 り(hori) meaning ditch, 炬 (ko) meaning torch or fire, and 燵 (tatsu) meaning warmer foot.

The formation of hori-gotatsu was changed slightly during the Edo period in the seventeenth century. These changes include the floors around the irori being dug up into the ground in a square. Wooden platforms are placed around, making for a fireplace. The blanket was then placed on the platform again, where one could sit with their feet underneath to keep warm.

This kotatsu arose with the widespread use of tatami mats in Japanese homes. Instead of placing coals in the irori, they were placed in an earthen pot on top of the tatami making the boat moveable. In addition, modern-style kotatsu is called oki-gotatsu.


Types of Japanese kotatsu table

There are two types of kotatsu used in Japan today, differing in configuration and heating pattern

  • Electric: The modern style of kotatsu (oki-gotatsu (置) consists of a table with an electric heater attached to the bottom of the table. This evolved from a clay pot with hot coals placed under a table. The kotatsu is usually placed on a thin futon, like a mat. A second, thicker futon is placed on the kotatsu board, on which the board is placed. An electric heating element attached to the lower part of the panel heats the space below the blanket.
  • Coal: The more traditional type is a table set on a recessed floor ( hori-gotatsu ( り 炬 燵 ) ). The pit is cut into the floor and is about 40 cm deep. A charcoal fireplace is placed somewhere in the basement, wall, or, as in modern kotatsu, attached to the board frame. There is a pitiful kotatsu with an electric heater too.

General features of Japanese Kotatsu tables

In keeping with household culture, Kotatsu has a simple structure, consisting of a low wooden table (Kotatsu table dimensions are usually 35.5-43cm), covered with a Futon mattress about 5cm thick, below is a system heating.

Currently, people produce many types of Kotatsu tables. Consumers have more and more choices. You can buy ones that are small enough for your feet to walk in or larger ones like a full-sized dining table. At first, people used to worry about the futon coating on top having a pretty big risk of catching fire, but people have gradually improved technology to be able to prevent that risk and bring the safest table.


To use the heat level economically and efficiently, today’s Kotatsu all have a temperature control mechanism. People can choose to just warm their feet, but they can also turn it into a heater to warm the whole room.

One of the extra parts of the Kotatsu table is the mat. Traditional Japanese houses have tatami (soft papyrus and woven straw) floors, which are not as stiff as wooden or concrete floors. However, modern homes and harder floor surfaces, require some sort of cushion to act as a seating area for the Kotatsu table. Nowadays, Kotatsu mats or Kotatsu mats are commonly used with these tables to match with kotatsu table design. They are placed under the Kotatsu table so that it covers the seating area around the table.

>>Read more: Japanese Air Purifier: The Ultimate Guide (2022).

The meaning of the kotatsu table to Japanese people

The Japanese consider the kotatsu table as an indispensable part of their life. During the winter months in Japan, kotatѕu tables are often placed in the center of the house, such as in the middle of the living room. In the evening, family members gather around the kotatsu to enjoy food, television, games and chat while keeping the lower half of the body warm. It is said that “once under the kotatsu heated table, all your worries drift away like a familiar warmth and you become completely relaxed.”

A Japanese kotatsu table is a relatively inexpensive way to keep warm in the winter, giving your family a warm atmosphere. Family members can choose to focus their activities in one area of ​​the house to save on energy costs. In the summer, the blanket can be removed, and the kotatsu is used as an ordinary table. So convenient!


Today, technology develops, and a lot of heating devices are born. However, nothing can replace the position of a kotatsu table. Because, this table has been attached to so many generations for many years, giving people memories and family warmth, which is worthy of respect and preservation.

Final Words

Japanese Kotatsu tables have many sizes and designs with various different price segments. If you do not know where to buy the product? So, choose to buy right in the Japanese market, this will help you choose the right Kotatsu heating table, suitable for your needs and space with Japanese quality, good price.

If you are still having trouble buying internationally, don’t worry. Please experience the cross-border purchase application Janbox.com. This is also the way to order Japanese Kotatsu tables to other countries quickly, simply, and conveniently. Please visit our website, you will be guided and receive the goods as soon as possible. Wish you soon own the best kotatsu table for your home.