Created By: DracMonster on February 19, 2010
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Sitting Around The Kotatsu

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Hidamari Sketch shows us how it's done.

In Japan, most homes have no central heating, and are very thinly insulated, so most people rely on electric space heaters. The most common form is the kotatsu ("heater table") which consists of a low table with an electric heater built into its underside, with a very thick quilted drape around it. People wanting to stay warm seat themselves on the floor under the table. The drape keeps the heat trapped underneath, and it travels through the inside of clothing to heat the sitters' bodies. If they're so inclined, they can scoot almost all the way under and use it as a makeshift heated bed, although there is a belief that falling asleep under the kotatsu makes you vulnerable to catching a cold.

Mikan (known as satsuma in the west) are a species of mandarin orange that are considered to have a lot of nutrients important for getting through the winter, so it is common to see a bowl of them on the table. For many Japanese, a kotatsu holding a bowl of oranges is the archetypal symbol of winter.

Kotatsus tend to show up in two situations:
  • Slice of Life will have a (usually female) group of friends sitting around a kotatsu, murmuring about how warm and comfortable it is, rambling on about their lives, napping, and every single one complaining that someone else should go get some snacks. Often prime Sleep Cute and Crowning Moment of Heartwarming territory.
  • Ecchi/Hentai, almost always a male and female doing homework or studying for exams together. Important naughty bits are under that table, so when a pen or some other minor item gets dropped under the huge honking comforter nothing should be able to get under by accident, it is inevitably the guy's duty to look under there, stare at panties, start reaching around trying to find the item, find something soft... and ecchiness ensues.


Examples:

  • Love Hina uses the ecchi version a few times (and the non-ecchi.)
  • Negima! has the Slice of Life use.
  • Azumanga Daioh has Osaka falling asleep under a kotatsu while at Chiyo's house and having a weird Dream Sequence. When they leave, she bids it farewell and reminisces about it on the way home...
  • Keroro Gunsou in one manga chapter. (Fuyuki and Natsumi. Guess who has to go get the snacks?)
  • Lucky Star episode 13 has an extended Seinfeldian Conversation about kotatsus.
  • Ichigo Mashimaro, of course, has the Slice of Life version a couple of times. In one episode picture, Miu and Matsuri share the space underneath.
  • Minami-ke devotes considerable time to kotatsu antics and also had an episode or two involving oranges in one of those scenes.
  • Persona 4 includes kotatsu scenes in the later parts of the game. Nanako wants one, and the party eventually gets one for her.
  • Cross Game: On New Years, Kou and Aoba both fall asleep under the kotatsu leading to a Sleep Cute situation. Heartwarming since they are normally fighting with each other.
  • Hidamari Sketch has the Slice of Life use, natch.
  • In Urusei Yatsura, Kotatsu Neko is the ghost of a cat that froze to death, so its spirit is now attracted to heater tables.
  • Kotatsu Neko, on the other hand, is a live action film recently adapted to anime, about two (living) cats that spend most of their time under a kotatsu.
  • In Watashi No Ookami-san the Big Bad Evil Overlord Subaru... spends his days under the kotatsu sleeping or watching television. (When he isn't attempting lay Komomo on top of it...)


Will launch as Kotatsu Coziness with Kotatsu and Heater Table as redirects at 8PM EST tonight. (Unless someone thinks up a snappier name.)

Rolling Updates..
Community Feedback Replies: 15
  • February 18, 2010
    Nyktos
    Azumanga Daioh did indeed have this. Osaka fell asleep under it, leading to a Dream Sequence that is one of the best-know scenes in the series.
  • February 18, 2010
    Nyperold
    Huh! Didn't know about the oranges being traditional. I saw it in the chapter picture and first strip of episode 2 of Lucky Star, but nowhere else.

    I also remember that when the girls in Azumanga Daioh went to see Mayaa at Chiyo's, Osaka went on and on about the heated table. She said "See you later" to it when they left, and continued to go on about it as they were going home!

    • Ichigo Mashimaro, of course, has the Slice Of Life version a couple of times. In one episode picture, Miu and Matsuri share the space underneath.
  • February 18, 2010
    DracMonster
    Well, the traditional thing was kind of a joke, I just see oranges a lot in these scenes.

    Thanks for jogging my memory on AD, redoing the entry.
  • February 18, 2010
    AdellePleven
    Minami-ke devotes considerable time to kotatsu antics and also had an episode or two involving oranges in one of those scenes.
  • February 18, 2010
    SKJAM
    Comedy anime will also sometimes have the "manly challenge" where the characters huddle around the kotatsu--in the middle of summer, drinking hot tea and generally showing their love of sauna conditions.
  • February 18, 2010
    goodtimesfreegrog
    ^ I think Hidamari Sketch did just that in one episode, but I can't remember if there was a kotatsu involved or not. Can anyone confirm this?
  • February 18, 2010
    axelseru
    Persona 4 includes kotatsu scenes in the later parts of the game. Nanako wanted one, and the party eventually gets one for her.
  • February 18, 2010
    Evalana
    It's traditional to eat oranges (among other things) around New Year's in Japan. The word for orange, daidai, is a homophone for the phrase "from generation to generation."
  • February 19, 2010
    MatthewTheRaven
    Launch it. The name is good, the description is good, and you've got enough examples.
  • February 19, 2010
    Sackett
    There is a belief that falling asleep under the kotatsu makes you vulnerable to catching a cold.

    I think the name could simply be The Kotatsu with Table Heater as a redirect.
  • February 19, 2010
    DracMonster
    Aight, I'll launch it this evening, gonna wait a bit for more examples. The "manly challenge" scenario I've never seen. Any examples?
  • February 19, 2010
    Sackett
    Isn't the traditional Japanese New Year's orange a bitter orange? Or have modern Japanese shifted to the typical (and far more edible) tropical orange?
  • February 19, 2010
    DracMonster
    Ah you're probably right, I'll change it. Although pages conflict about whether they're eaten or just decoration.
  • February 19, 2010
    Sackett
    Really? I had assumed it was basically used as a garnish. Although I can see people eating it less and less as more sweet citrus fruits become available.

    Anyway, good trope. Thankyou for writing it up.
  • February 19, 2010
    DracMonster
    Actually, it's looking like those bowls hold mikan, a species of mandarin orange. Daidai are used in a display on family altars.
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