Nov 16

Surviving in Japan: A guide to heaters in Japan

Posted by Ashley Thompson (Shizuoka-ken, 2008-2010) of Surviving in Japan: without much Japanese and Lifelines columnist for The Japan Times.

Most homes in Japan aren’t equipped with central heating, so people typically rely on space heaters and similar items. Now, we all know that wearing some extra clothes and warm fleece is a good way to avoid turning the heat all the way up, but most likely you will need (or desperately want) a heater at some point.

And, just to note, I am not an expert on heaters, so if you are curious about how a heater works a certain way, go ahead and google that.

Also, most of the heaters below have timers and auto-turnoff options in addition to running constantly. They also often have automatic shutoff features such as if the heater fell over.

*Keep in mind another way heater might be written is 電気ストーブ (denki stobu).
*The word used for “heating” is 暖房 (だんぼう, danbou).

A guide to heaters in Japan

1. Aircon – エアコン

The air conditioner is commonly known as an aircon in Japan, and most aircons are equipped with a heating function. So, if you have an aircon, you may want to check that out (look for “暖房”). From experience I know it does a pretty good job heating a room, although I found that all the heat rose to the ceiling which was somewhat pointless if you spend most of your time sitting on the floor and don’t have a ceiling fan.

I also found that running the aircon was incredibly expensive. Some are much more energy efficient (look for 省エネ on the outside or description). Aircons are also one of the more expensive options, considering that most will be ¥30,000 – 40,000 and up, depending on the size.

2. Oil heater – オイルヒーター

This heater is the one that looks like a radiator, and some of you may be familiar with already. My family used these when I was a kid, and though they work really well, they are typically energy hogs. Some are better than others though, so it’s best to compare when looking at energy usage. Some of the ones I looked at operate at 1200 watts at the highest level, with an estimated ¥15-20/hour cost to operate (though this varies). Price may range from ¥5,000 – 30,000, though it’s possible to find cheaper options at a recycle shop (this goes for all of the following options as well).


oil heater


3. Panel heater – パネルヒーター

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