HOW TO: Heat Your Home (and Stay Warm) in Japan This Winter

heater, japan, japanese, winter, heating
Original photo via manicstreetpreacher, design, editing and text by me.

Winter in (most of) Japan can be cold. And not just in the mountains of central Japan or Hokkaido as you would expect, but even coastal climate areas like where I live here in Shizuoka. It may not typically snow here, but the wind is strong and biting.

Well, obviously, it's cold. It's winter. And I'm a wimp when it comes to cold.


Many homes in Japan are not insulated well and don't have double-paned windows, although this is changing with newer structures. Despite that, there's a good chance many of you live in a drafty apartment or house.

That said, there are some ways you can winterize your Japanese dwelling, but if you're on the hunt for a decent heater, you'll find several options below, depending on your preferences and budget. (I've previously written a guide to heaters in Japan, but expanded a bit in today's post.)

Before we get into that, I saw this useful poster at an electronics store that lists different heaters in the far left column and a few characteristics in the other three columns.

The second column lists average costs to run (per hour), which is a good reference point, but there are definitely exceptions, on both the high and low end. According to the poster, an air conditioner running on the heating function at 1000 watts in a six to seven tatami-sized room costs approximately 15 yen an hour, whereas an oil heater, gas fan heater and kerosene fan heater cost 29 yen/hour and up.

Under the spot heating devices, a kotatsu and a hot carpet are the cheapest to run at 3.5 yen and 6.5 yen an hour, respectively (wattage indicated in small parentheses under each device), while the other heaters cost above 18 yen/hour to run. But remember, these are just examples and do not represent all models. More energy efficient heaters are usually indicated by 省エネ.

The second two columns indicate 暖房スピード (how fast they heat up) and 手軽さ (how easy they are to use). More on all that below.

heater, heating, Japan, winter, Japanese

I've listed two bestsellers (from, a ranking site) of each heater type, for your general reference or if you're wondering what model to get. Note that the rankings may have changed since the day I checked each (sort by clicking on the 売れ筋 column). At the end of this post is a list of ten bestselling heaters, among all types but not including air conditioners.

If you want to heat an entire room

The following heaters will warm up a room (in most cases), as opposed to space heaters, which are best for heating you and small areas (more on those below).

aircon, air conditioner, Japan, heater, heating, winter

Air Conditioner


Pros Cons
Can heat an entire room (the size designated on the model in tatami mats)Can be expensive to run if you have an older model and/or use it all the time
Newer, energy-saving models are often cheaper to run constantly than space heaters Extremely expensive to buy (30,000 - 40,000 yen and up)
Heats up fast (depending on model) -

Best-selling air conditioner models on Kakaku (as of Nov. 9, 2012):

Keep in mind you'll want to make sure, if you do get an air conditioner, that it's large enough to heat the space you have, as the following two models are for smaller spaces.
  1. パナソニック CS-222CF-W - Heats a five tatami-sized room if in wooden structure or six tatami-sized room in concrete building.
  2. ダイキン S22NTES-W - Heats the same space as above.

oil heater, Japan

Oil Heater 


Pros Cons
Can heat an entire roomSlow to heat up
Can move around (though they are heavy, but have wheels)          Expensive to run (15 to 35 yen an hour, depending on model and wattage used)

Best-selling oil heaters according to Kakaku (as of Nov. 8, 2012):
  1. デロンギ ドラゴンデジタルスマート TDDS0915BL
  2. デロンギ ドラゴンデジタル TDD0915W
kerosene, fan, heater, Japan

Kerosene Fan Heater 


The word for actual kerosene is actually 灯油 (とうゆ, touyu), rather than 石油.

Pros Cons
Can be cheap to run (depends on model and cost of kerosene)                    Can be expensive to run (depends on model and cost of kerosene)
Heats up fast Requires leaving window open and regularly airing out the space to use
- -

Best-selling kerosene fan heaters on Kakaku (as of Nov. 8, 2012):
  1. ダイニチ FW-568L-W
  2. ダイニチ FW-328S-S

kerosene, stove, Japan

Kerosene Stove


Pros and cons are similar to the kerosene fan heater above.

Best-selling kerosene stoves on Kakaku (as of Nov. 8, 2012):
  1. トヨトミ RB-25C
  2. 日本エー・アイ・シー アラジン ブルーフレーム BF3905

gas, fan, heater, Japan

Gas Fan Heater 


Pros Cons
Can heat up an entire room                                                                        Can be expensive to run (depends on model and cost of gas)
Heats up fast               Requires leaving window open and regularly airing out the space to use
-          Expensive to buy

Best-selling gas fan heaters on Kakaku (as of Nov. 8, 2012):
  1. 東京ガス RN-C250XFH-WH
  2. 東京ガス NR-B950FH

If you want to spot heat

The following heaters are generally not capable of heating up an entire room. From experience, I know a ceramic fan heater can warm up an insulated room (with the door shut) to some extent, but not as effectively as an air conditioner or oil heater. They do work well for small areas though, such as bathrooms.

Also remember that the wattage each of these uses varies depending on the size and model. So a max 300 watts heater will use less energy and thus be cheaper to run than a heater running at 1200 watts, although it likely won't be as warm. Electronics stores usually list the wattage and other specs on labels next to the prices, and many often include how much they cost to operate per hour. So it's a good idea to browse through an electronics store before you purchase a heater, even if you plan to order one online (for a better deal or for other reasons).

I've listed different space heaters below with pros and cons, but quickly, I want to share the following poster that I thought was a bit helpful in terms of highlighting pros and cons for a few popular space heaters. The three types of heaters compared in the picture include oil heaters (オイルヒーター), ceramic heater (セラミックヒーター), and electric stoves (電気ストーブ), which includes infrared and carbon heaters. Five stars is excellent, and one star is poor.

The categories in the far left column are:

  • 経済性   (けいざいせい, keizaisei, how economical it is) 
  • 速暖性   (そくだんせい, sokudansei, how fast it heats up)
  • 全体暖房   (ぜんたいだんぼう, zentaidanbou, how well it heats a room)
  • 部分暖房   (ぶぶんだんぼう, bubundanbou, how well it spot heats)
  • 安全性   (あんぜんせい, anzensei, how safe it is)

heaters, heating, Japan, Japanese

Ceramic Fan Heater 


Pros Cons
Heats up fast                         Can be expensive to run
Easy to move around Can only heat up small areas
Inexpensive to buy -

Best-selling ceramic fan heaters on Kakaku (as of Nov. 8, 2012):
  1. パナソニック DS-FKX1203-S
  2. シャープ HX-B120-W

(Far) Infrared Stove / Heater


Pros Cons
Heats up fast, but heats you from the insideCan be expensive to run
Inexpensive to buy Doesn't heat up space
Easy to move around -

Best-selling infrared heaters on Kakaku (as of Nov. 8, 2012):
  1. コロナ コアヒート DH-1112R
  2. コロナ コアヒートスリム DH-912R

carbon, heater, Japan

Carbon Heater 


Carbon heaters are a type of infrared heater, but they use a carbon filament, which heats up almost instantly. We owned one and found it to be energy-efficient and kept me nice and toasty, although this was pre-baby.

Pros Cons
Heats up in two seconds        Doesn't really heat up space (heats you or objects)
Inexpensive to buy                                          Can be somewhat expensive to run,
depending on model (some models are energy efficient and cost next to nothing to run)
Easy to move around               -

Best-selling carbon heaters on Kakaku (as of Nov. 8, 2012):
  1. コイズミ KKS-0612/G
  2. YAMAZEN DC-S093

Halogen Heater 


Pros Cons
Inexpensive to buyHave to replace lamps every four years or so
Heats up fast (depending on model) Extremely expensive to buy (¥30,000 - 40,000 and up)


Best-selling halogen heaters on Kakaku (as of Nov. 8, 2012):
  1. テクノス PH-1211
  2. 日立 HLH-104

hot, carpet, Japan, heating

Hot Carpet 


Pros Cons
Cheap to runOnly heats the part of you touching the carpet
Easy to move around Some higher-quality models are more expensive to buy (10,000 to 20,000 yen and up)
Can be inexpensive to buy (some around 5000 yen)                          -

Best-selling hot carpets on Kakaku (as of Nov. 8, 2012):
  1. テクノス TWA-2000B
  2. パナソニック DC-2NHA1-P



Slip your feet under this table and keep nice and toasty warm. They're nice, although personally I don't like the rest of me being cold while part of me is warm so it really depends on what you like/don't like and your cold tolerance. The blanket, which goes directly under the tabletop so it sits between two panels, is sold separately (or you could use a thick blanket you might already have).

Pros Cons
Cheap to run                                  Only heats area under blanket (the rest of you might get cold)

Best-selling kotatsu models on Kakaku (as of Nov. 8, 2012):
  1. ゼピール DK-K7511-LG
  2. コイズミ KTR-3214

Best Selling Heaters According to Kakaku

as of Nov. 9, 2012
Air conditioners, hot carpets, and kotatsu are not included.

1. Corona Core Heat (Infrared)
コロナ コアヒート DH-1112R

2. Corona Core Heat Slim (Infrared)
コロナ コアヒートスリム DH-912R

3. Delonghi Dragon Digital Smart (Oil Heater)
デロンギ ドラゴンデジタルスマート TDDS0915BL

4. Panasonic (Ceramic Heater)

5. Dainichi
ダイニチ FW-568L-W (Kerosene Fan Heater)

6. Toyotomi
トヨトミ RB-25C (Kerosene Stove)

7. Japan A.M.C. Aladdin Blue Frame (Kerosene Stove)
日本エー・アイ・シー アラジン ブルーフレーム BF3905

8. Sharp (Humidifier / Ceramic Heater)
シャープ HX-B120-W

9. Dyson Hot + Cool Fan Heater AM04 ファンヒーター

10. Panasonic (Ceramic Heater)

Looking for more options? Try reading this guide to heaters in Japan for some info on panel heaters and electric blankets. You might also try looking for an electric foot warmer or using a large heating water bottle (湯たんぽ, ゆたんぽ, yutanpo).

Those of you who've survived one or more winters in Japan, what type of heating has worked the best for you?

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