Winter is here, and for this San Diego boy this means a constant battle to keep from freezing to death, although happily there are some innovative ways to keep warm in Japan. Japanese homes lack central heating, meaning that you're generally heating one room of your house at a time, which while economical is still hard to get used to. The most traditional way of keeping warm is a kotatsu, essentially a short table with a blanket over it and a heater inside -- just put your legs under the blanket and you'll be toasty in no time. The most popular heating method is a kerosene heater called a "stove," or a similar unit called a "fan heater" which has a computerized fan to improve air circulation; these two methods provide the most energy for your heating dollars, although the portable kerosene tank always manages to run out of fuel at the worst possible time, meaning that I have to stand by the front door at midnight with a hand pump and refill the kerosene, while trying not to get the stuff all over everyone's shoes (since there are many shoes by the front door of a Japanese house). A better option is a gas heater that uses natural gas stored in large tanks, which we switched to at J-List last year -- no more kerosene tank to fill up on cold winter mornings. There are some other options, too, including a "hot carpet" (essentially a carpet that gets hot when you turn it on) and in-floor heating based on the traditional ondol floor heating, in use for centuries in Korea. My other favorite way to keep warm is are the amazing kairo heating pads, which keep you warm for hours just sitting in your pocket, which we just happen to sell.