A little while back I had an email from New Englander Michelle Nagai. She and her husband, Kenta, recently moved to one of the colder regions of Japan. She was initially feeling dismayed as winter came on and the house got colder and colder, but seemed to be taking an intrepid approach. I invited her to write a “guest entry” for Cold House Journal, and it just arrived! (Photos by hubby.)
A Japanese Cold House
Greetings from Northeastern Japan. A while back, I contacted Cold House Journal after waking up one morning to a brisk 48˚ in the living room of the Japanese house I share with my husband and five-year-old son (since then we’ve gone as low as 38˚ — but who’s counting, anyway…).
Having grown up in New Hampshire and Vermont, I am a pretty hearty person and I don’t generally need to be super-heated, but I must admit I freaked out just a bit as the temperatures here started dropping. So I contacted CHJ to ask if I should worry about slipping into a hypothermic coma in my sleep…the calm and reassuring “no” that came back in response to my query inspired me to begin to think about my own cold house and the ways in which I respond to it, emotionally and physically.
The house we rent is thoroughly and unabashedly un-insulated and un-heated. The windows, which are abundant in every room, are single-glazed to allow maximum cold penetration. Looking up at the ceiling inside a dark closet, I can see little strips of light where gaps in the roofing allow the sunlight to penetrate. The paper shoji screens which cover most of the windows and serve as doors between rooms, rustle when the wind blows. Cold drafts of air shoot into the room when any curtain or door is opened.
It’s really cold in here. As a first cold-fighting measure, we’ve applied some “special” bubble wrap for insulating otherwise un-insulated glass [ed. note: we have used this strategy too]. It looks like regular bubble wrap except that the coating on one side is slightly slack, creating many little suction cup bubbles. These adhere nicely to the surface of the window because there is so much (more…)