(sorry if that's TMI), and as I was in the bathroom freezing (and silently cursing myself for forgetting to turn the toilet seat heater on before bed), I wondered: why are Japanese homes so poorly insulated? The question was timely, since the bathroom in Japanese homes is generally much colder than the rest of the house, and generally doesn't have any type of heating unit (although some people I know take their kerosene heater in there to warm it up before/during use). Our bathroom has an overhead body dryer which we use as a heater, but it really only heats the area directly under it. Anyway, as I returned to my warm bed and went back to sleep, I sort of forgot about my question but I was reminded of it today due to the fact that it's essentially 30 degrees and snowing outside and I am a virtual prisoner in my living room (the only place in the house where it's nice and warm).
The reason I say I'm being kept a virtual prisoner in my living room is because it's the warmest spot in the house at the moment. In order to cut down on our utility bills, we keep all the heaters in the house off except for the one in the living room/dining room/kitchen area (otherwise known in Japan as "LDK"). To keep that area warm, we also shut the sliding glass door. The effect of keeping the door closed + no heating in the hallways mean that once you step outside the LDK area, it's almost as if you're standing outside the house, that's how cold it is. When either of us has to do something outside the LDK area (like laundry or go upstairs or even use the bathroom), there's always a verbal "brrrr" that comes out of our mouth followed by the sound of running to quickly do whatever it was that needed to be done so we can get back to the warmth of the LDK. This occurs in spite of the fact that I'm usually always bundled up clothing wise (on an average day I'll be wearing one, maybe two long sleeve shirts, athletic pants, furry socks and my house slippers). Sounds silly, but it's the reality of Japanese living in the winter. And for a girl from Hawaii where it's almost always "80 degrees and partly sunny," these winters can be mighty brutal.