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Are Japanese houses cold?


Japanese homes have always been a subject of curiosity for foreigners. One of the most common questions people ask is, “Are Japanese houses cold?” In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this phenomenon and whether it is true or not.

Geographical location

Japan’s geographical location plays a significant role in the temperature inside its homes. The country is located in a temperate zone with four distinct seasons. The winters in Japan can be harsh, especially in the northern regions.

Japanese Snack Box

Construction materials

Japanese houses are typically built with thin walls made of wood or paper, which may contribute to the perception that they are cold. These materials provide little insulation, and the cold air can easily penetrate inside the house.

Heating systems

In Japan, traditional heating systems involve the use of kerosene heaters or electric space heaters. These systems are not as efficient as central heating systems, and they tend to heat only one room at a time.


Insulation is not commonly used in Japanese homes, which can make them feel colder than homes in other countries. However, newer homes may have some level of insulation installed.


In Japan, it is common to have tatami flooring, which is made of rice straw and woven rush grass. Tatami floors are not insulated, and they can feel cold during the winter months.


Japanese people tend to dress warmly inside their homes during the winter months. They wear layers of clothing and use blankets and kotatsu tables to keep themselves warm.


The Japanese culture values frugality and conservation of resources. Therefore, they tend to conserve energy by keeping their homes at a lower temperature than what people in other countries may be accustomed to.

Double-glazed windows

Newer homes in Japan may have double-glazed windows installed, which provide better insulation against the cold air outside.


Japanese homes tend to have high humidity levels, which can make them feel colder than homes in other countries. High humidity levels also contribute to mold growth inside homes.

Location within Japan

The temperature inside Japanese homes can vary depending on where they are located within the country. Homes in Hokkaido tend to be much colder than homes in Okinawa because of the difference in climate.


So, are Japanese houses cold? The answer is yes and no. While some traditional Japanese houses may feel cold during the winter months, newer homes may have better insulation and heating systems installed. Additionally, cultural factors such as dressing warmly inside the home may contribute to the perception that Japanese houses are cold.

Are Japanese homes cold in winter?

Except for Hokkaido, most houses in Japan do not have central heating and can become extremely cold during the winter season. Although you can use your air conditioner in heating mode, it may result in dry air and higher electricity bills.

How do Japanese homes stay warm?

Thanks to their thermal mass and moisture absorption properties, bricks are effective at regulating the temperature inside homes. Additionally, their slow heat conductivity helps to keep homes cool during the day and warm at night. It is interesting to note that in Japan, clay, the main component of bricks, was only used for producing tiles in the past.

Are houses in Japan insulated?

Despite their reputation for being technologically advanced, Japanese homes often lack proper insulation for the cold weather. This is a common complaint among residents who experience chilly conditions inside their houses during winter.

How do Japanese cool their homes?

Air conditioning is common in most Japanese households, with around 90% of households owning one, which is similar to the US. However, the most popular type of air conditioning system in Japan is a “mini-split” system with separate units mounted on the ceiling and controlled individually.

Why do Japanese homes not have heating?

In Japan, central heating is not commonly found in homes as many locals believe it is more efficient to keep themselves warm rather than heating an entire house. Historically, people used a single hearth called an irori, which was located in a central area and served as both a cooking and smoking area.

Why are Japanese houses so poorly insulated?

Japanese windows are typically constructed with aluminum sashes, which conduct heat quickly and allow cold air to enter the home. Even if double-glazed glass is incorporated, it still does not provide sufficient insulation due to the properties of aluminum sashes.

Alternative heating options

In recent years, alternative heating options have become more popular in Japan. These include heat pumps, which can provide both heating and cooling functions, and underfloor heating systems. These newer technologies can help to make Japanese homes feel more comfortable during the colder months.

Renovation trends

Many homeowners in Japan are now renovating their homes to incorporate better insulation and heating systems. This trend is partly due to the increasing popularity of energy-efficient homes and the desire for more comfortable living spaces.


Another reason why traditional Japanese houses may feel colder is because of their design. Many traditional Japanese homes have large windows and open spaces that allow for natural light and ventilation. While this design is aesthetically pleasing, it may not be as practical for colder climates.

Seasonal changes

It’s important to note that the temperature inside Japanese homes can vary depending on the season. During the summer months, for example, Japanese homes may feel hot and humid due to the lack of air conditioning or central cooling systems.

Cultural adaptation

While some foreigners may find Japanese homes cold, many Japanese people are used to living in these conditions. They have adapted to their environment by dressing warmly, using blankets and heaters, and conserving energy. Therefore, what may seem uncomfortable to some may be completely normal for others.


The lack of insulation and traditional heating systems in Japanese homes is partly due to the country’s focus on sustainability. By conserving energy and resources, Japan aims to reduce its carbon footprint and promote eco-friendly lifestyles. While this may result in slightly colder homes during the winter months, it ultimately benefits the environment and future generations.

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