A Kotatsu table is a popular piece of Japanese furniture that Americans are just now discovering. A Kotatsu is a heating appliance featuring a coffee table, a blanket, and a heat source. A complete Kotatsu set has the blanket placed on the table, which has the heating unit underneath. So, it becomes a cozy piece of heaven because you can sit underneath the table, with the blanket trapping the warmth.
It is designed for you to put your legs underneath the table while you sit and watch TV, play games, or eat a meal. And, even though it might be tempting to take a nap under it, sleeping is not recommended because you could accidentally touch the heating element.
Kotatsu tables are extremely popular in Japan, mainly because Japanese homes are not insulated well, and this is an inexpensive way to keep warm during the winter. In Japanese culture, it is not unusual for people to sit on the floor, and this table is perfect for that. Some also use a zaisu, which is a floor chair that gives you a backrest.
Perfect for small spaces, a Kotatsu table is a multifunctional piece of furniture because it can be a dinner table, storage bin, and heater all-in-one.
Where Can You Find A Kotatsu Table?
Finding a Kotatsu table in the States is extremely difficult. Your best bet is to buy one online, but make sure it comes with the complete set of the table, blanket, and heater. Often, you have to buy everything separately.
The Japanese version of this piece of furniture is extremely low to the ground, like a coffee table. However, there are versions that sit higher up so you can place chairs under them or sit on pillows.
There are also new versions of the Kotatsu table that have storage for things like laptops, tablets, books, magazines, and other electronics. And, if you are going out to see a movie while in Japan, there are also movie theaters that have special Kotatsu seating.
Can I Build One Myself?
The answer is yes. DIY Kotatsu tables are cheaper to build than ordering one from Japan, and you can personalize the style. It only takes a few items, and you can put it together in an afternoon.
What you will need:
- A coffee table with two top surfaces, like the LACK coffee table from IKEA. It is 18 inches high, and comes in white, brown, or birch, making it perfect for this project. Plus, it only costs $30.
- A Kotatsu Heater. You will find these online on sites like eBay, and they will run you between $60 and $100. You want a heater specifically designed for this purpose because alternatives will not work very well. And, if you opt for a space heater, it could be dangerous.
- A Queen or King size blanket/comforter of your choice.
- A Belkin Power Switch to make it easy to turn off and on. This should cost around $10.
- A four-pack of corner braces. You can find these at any hardware or home store, and shouldn’t cost more than $3 or $4.
- Big pillows to sit on, instead of sitting on the floor.
How To Put It Together:
- If you have a table you need to assemble, like the LACK, follow the instructions to put the table together, but leave off the lower shelf. For this project, you will use the lower shelf in a different way.
- Using your corner braces, mount the heater to the bottom side center of the table with a drill and screws. It is possible that you won’t need the braces, and can screw the heater directly into the table, it just depends on the kind of heater you purchase.
- Place your blanket on top of the table where it flows out on all sides. Be sure to center your blanket over the table so that it flows out evenly on each side.
- Place the bottom shelf on top of the table over the blanket.
- Plug in your heater and get cozy on the floor or the optional pillows. Your homemade Kotatsu table is complete.
Depending on the type of heater you have on your table, it can cause blisters or serious burns if your legs touch it while sleeping. Also, be sure to keep babies and toddlers away from a Kotatsu table because they could get stuck underneath the table and blanket, without the strength to get out. There have been some cases where babies have gotten dehydrated or have a severe increase in body temperature because they got stuck underneath a Kotatsu.
Kotatsu tables have a long history and tradition in Japan dating back to the 14th century. It has definitely evolved over the years, and has become so warm and cozy, that you won’t want to get up. So be careful! If you add a Kotatsu table to your living room, you could be stuck there for a long time. So, be sure to have plenty of movies or shows in your Netflix queue before sitting down and getting comfy.