When I tell people that it snows in Japan, they are often surprised! They seem to imagine that Japan is a warm, tropical island locale full of bamboo and monkeys.
In reality, Japan is geographically diverse, and has four distinct seasons and a multitude of climates. The scenery varies widely, from pristine beaches and fields of lavender to crowded cityscapes and deep forest – bamboo and monkeys included!
For example, the area where we live in Hyogo has been said to resemble Germany or Switzerland. The mountains are covered with towering evergreens that are blanketed with snow for much of the winter season.
Yet, unlike 90% of Swiss residential areas, homes in Japan do not normally have central heating, and the walls can be thin and lack insulation. This is perfect for allowing wooden beams to breathe naturally, and has many benefits including decreasing damage during earthquakes, as well as increasing air flow and reducing mold during Japan’s humid summers. However, it can make for some very, very chilly winters indoors!
To learn more about just how cold it gets during the winters in Japan and the traditional (and not so traditional) ways to keep warm in a rural home without central heating, read on!