We ask everyday: “Why is it so cold outside?” ♪

Why can’t it all go away? (I’m talking: the cold outside)
The winter has been (can’t wait for spring to begin)
So very long (feeling cold inside is quite wrong…)

The duck and I don’t mind winter. In fact, we like everything Christmas, a little bit of snow, hot drinks in a cozy atmosphere, fewer insects and being able to save some money (because there’s no way we’re traveling and freezing our butts off in winter), especially when we can think about all that in warm and comfortable space. Unfortunately, there often is no way for us to completely escape the one annoying side effect of winter: the cold.
My hands are almost always cold (no matter the season) and the duck and I freeze easily so that we frequently feel the need to theatrically exclaim how we will lose all our limbs to the cold! Therefore, winter in Japan has not been that much fun for us, especially when we are spending time inside with a shortage of heat sources, no oven (=no homemade feel-good cookies! ☹) and one AC unit with a clogged up filter.

Fluffy duck

Because of that the duck and I have grown pretty fond of fluffy socks that, on some days, we only take off when we have to leave the house or before we take a hot shower. In addition, we have found a few other ways to support our ‘warm thoughts’ (ha! As if those ever work) in keeping us from freezing:

Baby, it’s cold outside ♪

See, unlike the situation described in this famous winter song, staying inside is not always the ideal solution to fighting off the cold from outside. In fact, many Japanese homes, especially traditional ones, are pretty cold in winter because of fairly bad insulation or a lack of heat sources other than the AC units you might find in the main rooms (living room, bedrooms). That is why kotatsu (an amazing invention, much better than robots: a low table with a built-in heater covered with a thick blanket – maybe even the most amazing part of our trip to Kyoto) and electric carpets are not an uncommon sight in Japanese houses.


The kotatsu – our absolute favorite place at our hostel in Kyoto!

Unfortunately, the duck and I are not among the lucky owners of either of those. Instead, we rely on our fluffy socks, hot showers and the timer function of our air conditioning unit. With the latter we can wake up and come home to a toasty room without leaving the AC on throughout the day or night. But not all ACs are created equal and not all of them have clean filters which means that, even with heating, a room can still end up being way too cold (because, depending on the AC unit, it can be rather difficult to clean out the filter on your own). For those moments, however, we have been introduced to the magic of Kairo, heat packs that you can put in your pockets or stick to your clothes to feel like you’re hugged by a sweet baby Yeti that has just enjoyed a relaxing bath in a hot chocolate onsen (hot spring). Even though they’re a bit too warm for long journeys on a heated train seat, Kairo are perfect if you are spending a day outside or inside with an air conditioner that would get horrible marks for its figure and heating performance were it to ever compete in the Winter Olympics…
Aaaaanyway, this sticky disposable Kairo that we could just attach to any item of clothing did save the duck and me from yet another frozen afternoon:

So far, we had only been aware of the ‘eco’ version, those re-usable gel-filled packs that you would activate by snapping a chip for thirty minutes of warm coat pockets. The disposable Japanese ones, however, usually last for between eight to fifteen hours once they’re activated. Our only regret (apart from them producing even more unnecessary trash) is that we bought the mini version – which did have us wishing for bigger baby Yetis and their even warmer, chocolaty hugs!

Hopefully, soon, we will not need any of those little heat-emitting or heat-trapping aids because the king of them all, the sun himself, will herald summer and with it armies of cockroaches and impermeable walls of humidity.
Until then, keep your thoughts warm, because, gosh, it really is cold outside!

Warm Yeti-hugs!

The duck, me, and our fluffy socks!

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