In winter Hirosaki is very cold with central heating generally unavailable. There are, however, a number of alternative methods to keep warm during Hirosaki’s long winter’s.
A kotatsu is a low table with an electric heater attached to the underside of the table. Two blankets are used to sandwich in the heat created by the heater and keep you warm while you sit around the kotatsu. A blanket called the kotatsu jiki is spread on the floor and the kotatsu is placed upon it and then covered by the kotatsu buton. Then the detachable tabletop is placed over the kotatsu buton. A kotatsu is good for keeping your legs warm and is very useful during the winter.
Kerosene Stove (Sekiyu Sutobu)
In addition to using a kotatsu, when real winter temperatures set in, you will need a kerosene stove or heater to stay warm. Old models are lit with matches, newer ones have electric starters, timers and fans to spread the heat. Whenever possible, to avoid kerosene fumes, have a stove complete with an exhaust pipe leading outdoors. All kerosene stoves are designed to turn off automatically when an earthquake occurs.
Kerosene is called sekiyu or touyu and can be purchased from gas stations or private vendors who will often deliver the kerosene to your house.
Purchase red 20-liter fuel containers (pori youki) and a manual or electric siphon (kyuuyu ponpu) at a supermarket or hardware store. Contact a local vendor to deliver the fuel and pay by cash or fuel tickets.
Other Heating Methods
Gas heaters (gas sutobu) can be used if apartments have a gas outlet for this purpose.
When temperatures dip below 0, BEWARE of freezing pipes (kitchen faucets, toilets and showers)!!!
During the winter, local news stations broadcast the percentage of the likelihood there is for freezing pipes. When these percentages are high, be sure to drain your pipes and turn off your water valves. If your pipes freeze, contact the waterworks department of your municipal office.
If repairs are needed, you must cover their cost
(approximately 6,000 yen to 16,000 yen).