As the days wind down and the colorful fall scenery begins to fade, winter once again bares its' icy fangs.
Being cold is a given, but staying cold is a choice.
In addition to loading up heat packs at local convenience stores and busting out the layers, we've rounded up some suggestions to help you find reprieve from the oppressive chills with our top picks for our favorite Japanese winter items.
Some of these picks will seem obvious like the Zojirushi Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated mug, while others like the stomach warmer might have slipped your mind. If anything, we hope some of our picks on this list will give you some great ideas for stocking stuffers.
Zojirushi Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Mug
You wouldn't catch any of us dead in winter without our Zojirushi Insulated Mugs. We don't like the word "obsessed", we prefer to think of it as a lifestyle.
Ever since I received my Zojirushi about ten years back, I haven't been able to use any other thermos. Don't get me wrong, any insulated mug will keep your beverage warm, but somehow the Zojirushi is just built different. We say skip the gloves and heat packs and recommend bringing a Zojirushi everywhere instead.
We find our piping hot drinks to still be warm even as we pack up to go home. And what a godsend it is to sip on something warm when trudging through the chilly winter streets. Did I mention how smooth the locking mechanism is and how satisfying it is when flipping open the cap?
The Zojirushi Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Mug used to start at $44 but we often see it go for $27 or lower. Well worth the investment in our opinion. Once you become a convert, we guarantee you'll be spreading the gospel by gifting these to all your family and friends.
Warm socks? Check. Cashmere sweater? Check. Thick jeans? Check. Down coat? Check. We all know that layers are key for avoiding the winter chills, but an often overlooked component of the winter outfit is the underwear.
In this case we're referring to all the clothing that touches the skin. We're talking fleece lined leggings, long johns, thermals, and yes even bras and panties.
Heattech is a fabric technology by Uniqlo that was created to keep you warm. The beauty of Heattech is that it doesn't add any extra bulk or weight to your clothing and it's machine-washable and dry-able.
You can find Heattech in all sorts of different items such as hoodies, pants, gloves, long underwear and even as a fabric for your scarf.
Everyone knows you have to kick off winter with a nabe party! Nabe is a traditional Japanese hot pot dish where you can add a variety ingredients. You can even have all your guests bring a surprise ingredient to add to the nabe; talk about potluck!
Corny jokes aside, you'll want a solid Nabe Pot to handle all of your needs. One of our favorites is this Japanese Sakura Ceramic Nabe. We'd recommend any of the nabe pots from the Hinomaru collection and find them to be the perfect size for 3-4 people but is also wieldy enough to use regularly.
We also recommend cooking all your soups in the nabe pot! We like how much easier it is to serve with a nabe pot as opposed to a traditional western soup pot.
What do samurai know about winter?
We're not sure, but they sure knew how to keep warm! The original 'haramaki' refers to the chest armor piece worn by samurai. However by World War I the haramaki had already evolved into its' modern iteration, as a piece of cloth that was wrapped around the stomach for warmth and circulation reasons.
In recent years, haramakis have become all the rage and are being worn by Japanese people as a fashion statement or for health reasons. Modern haramakis look sort of a like a tube top and translate to "belly wrap".
The haramaki tradition has persisted as a great way to keep warm and increase circulation in the midriff. Haramakis also come in a variety of materials which make them super comfy hugging your body all day.
We recommend wearing a haramaki underneath your coat or jacket to really feel the heat! We can't necessarily speak for the purported health benefits, but we do know these are a great way to keep warm in the dead of winter. Definitely "armor" we wouldn't battle the cold without.
Heated seats. That is all. If you've never experienced heated seats in winter, you're in for a treat. We have a philosophy here at Best Japan Items: treat yourself when it comes to things you use every day. If there's anything on this list we would deem as absolutely necessary, it would be the bidet.
If you ever visit japan you'll find bidets everywhere you go. Even in many of the public restrooms you come across, there will be a bidet. Especially when it gets quite cold during the winter months in Japan, a quick trip to the bathroom can cost you quite a bit of body heat.
Thankfully those heated seats are there to save the day. With all these great winter items, you would think Japan specializes in staying warm.
We won't go into the other details about the joys of a bidet, we have a separate post detailing those particulars, but we know you'll thank us after using this oasis of warmth in the freezing wasteland of your bathroom.
Nothing quite beats a hot cup of tea to fight the cold. There's something quintessentially winter about inhaling the warm water vapor coming off a steaming cup of tea.
Boiling water might be one of the simplest things you can do to stay warm, but who says you can't do it in style. We recommend the . It is stainless steel with a simple design that will look good in any kitchen.
We really love the Zojirushi Micom Water Boiler as it is both quiet and efficient. At the same time, pouring from this water boiler is also a breeze.
Switching to a water boiler from just boiling water on the stove is sort of like using a rice cooker for the first time: you wonder why you didn't get one sooner.
Now that you got your brand spanking new water boiler, you're going to need some warm beverages to get you through the cold days. I'm sure the first thing that came to your mind was also green tea.
We're not so different, you and I.
Obvious green goblin references aside, we recommend the Chaganju product for the authentic green tea experience. This green tea is 100% organic and is harvested from Uji in Kyoto, Japan, straight from the source.
One thing to keep in mind is that different teas require different temperatures to bring out their full flavor. Green tea generally requires temperatures of 175-180F (80-82C), but some other teas such as Hojicha require temperatures as low as 140F (60C).
We think there's nothing quite like green tea to beat the cold weather and we think you'll agree. There's a reason tea is renowned the world over as the ultimate cold climate beverage!
If you haven't felt the bliss of falling asleep underneath a kotatsu, you've been missing out. The humble kotatsu is a staple piece of furniture in Japanese apartments and houses during the winter.
A kotatu is typically just a square table with an integrated blanket that is heated by a tabletop stove underneath. If you thought your bed was hard to get out of, try a kotatsu!
Watching TV or reading next to this small heater will make you wonder why this winter season hack hasn't caught on in your country. As you fall asleep underneath this little table, remember to grab a blanket lest you catch a cold.
As the cold weather sets in, those of us with sensitive skin know what that really means: dry air. While some might be immune to the effects of dry air, there's no denying it sucks the moisture right out of your face.
Winter is also peak season for many beauty products like peeling gels and AHA-based creams. These little power houses are effective on your skin, but can leave you with some unsightly dry patches.
We recommend using a moisturizer underneath these exfoliants to help prevent any dry patches that might form. We like the Hadalabo because it's light and works well under makeup.
For a full run-down of Japanese moisturizers we'd recommend, check out our article detailing some of our other favorites.
Winter in japan wouldn't be complete without the coveted yutanpo. Yutanpos are just small water pouches that you fill with hot water. In Japan, you can find them at any local drug store, but in America you'll probably have to buy them online.
Although simple, don't estimate the power of the power of the yutanpo! These bad boys will keep you extra warm throughout the night.
We've linked our favorite one on Amazon as it stays warm for long periods of time and comes in a nice comfy furry cover!
As the temperature drops, and you begin to see snow on the mountain tops, you'll know its time to gear up. We hope you'll take a page out of the Japanese book and invest in some of the winter items listed above.
You can enjoy a heated seat during your morning routine and start your day off right with a hot cup of green tea, brewed with your brand new Zojirushi water boiler. Don't forget to make some extra to pack into your new Zojirushi insulated mug!
Before you leave the house remember to dress properly! You can be confident that you'll be protected from the cold air with all your new HeatTech gear under your thick jacket!
Lastly, don't forget to moisturize! Skin health is often forgotten during the winter and it's important to keep moisturized regularly throughout the day!
There you have it! Our top picks for the best Japanese winter items. What are some of your favorite things to keep warm in winter? Let us know in the comments below!