Kotatsu (Japanese Heated Table ) Alaskan Style




About: My husband calls me his "agent of change". Always have to be building, playing or thinking about doing something. Sitting around is not an option.

Its Co Co COLD, Outside!

And inside too for that matter!

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Step 1: I Am Just Getting Warmed Up!

My Alaskan Kotatsu Adventure

It all started with my daughter studying Japanese. Periodically she would share some small interesting fact about Japan. One day she showed me a "Katatsu", and said she thought they looked cool. By "cool", I interpreted this to mean "please mom make me one and put it in the middle of the living room". So, there ya go!

We live in Chugiak, Alaska which is a rather cold proposition. The first picture is of the ice crystals formed on the INSIDE of our single pane window the other day. Luckily we dont have that many single paned windows left! But suffice it to say, sitting down to study can be a chilly proposition in our house! We have very high ceilings and since hot air rises, the floor level is downright fridged!

Ok, I digress, I am not out to write a novel here, so this is how I made my "mock" katatsu (which I probably dont spell the same way twice in this whole instructable knowing me :-) But I digress :-)

1. Have a day were it is so cold that no one wants to get out of bed. This will inspire you!

2. Decide what kind of table to use. Traditional Katatsus tend to be low to the floor (like a coffee table). They are covered with a comforter and often you have seating on pillows or "floor chairs". In our case this wouldn't work because we would freeze our (*&^%$s ) off. I promise you, our floor is WAY to chilly for that! So. We chose a regular sized table.

3. Measure around entire table top, then measure from the table top to the floor.

4. Find blankets or comforters that you dont mind sacrificing to this project. In our case we used 3 twin sized blankets. As you can see in the third pic, they were doubled over for added warmth. Lay them (doubled over) end to end and sew the ends together. (you can also duct tape things together, just depends on your style :-) You might also put a layer of plastic in between for added heat retention.

Make the blanket about 5 feet longer then the length all around the table. This added length will allow you to wrap yourself and your chair when you pull up to the table. This allows you to wrap yourself when you pull up to the table, and make things COZY! Make sure the blanket is at least long enough to hang down to the floor to keep the hot air under the table. I chose to leave mine extra long and not worry about it.

Just a little extra padding for our cats

to take up residence should they get chilly.

Step 2: Down Under

So, before you go much further you need to crawl under your table with a cordless drill and about 8 screws. Drill a screw into each corner for starters. Try to drill them so they slant up towards the table top. This can be tricky, so if it doesn't work use a hard "something" (a rock in my case) to push them upward towards the table when you are done. This is so the blanket and the rings dont slip off.

So, 4 in each corner and two extra ones on the side where you going to sit. About the width of your chair so you can fit it in between.

Hope you dont have as much trouble getting out from under the table as I did.

I AINT as young as I use to be!

Step 3: Sewing Things Up

The next step is a little bit more time consuming. I sewed a ring (a curtain ring with the clamp taken off) to one corner of my blanket. I pulled everything under the table and looped it onto one of the screws. Then I measured how far it would be to the next screw and put a clothespin on the spot where the next ring would go. I did this for all eight screws.

Next, I crawled back out from under the table and took up residence on my couch for the evening. Sewing rings onto each location with a clothespin. Pretty basic sewing job, but I did use a bit heavier thread.

Step 4: A Tiny Little Room Appears

You guessed it!

When you get all your rings sewed on you are back under the table! Hooking each ring to its corresponding screw (Nails would work also).

Step 5: Warming Things Up!

Next you grab a little heater (preferably one that has an automatic shut off if things get too toasty! They make official "katatsu" heaters that can be bought off of amazon. Those are attached to the underside of the table itself. So far I have chosen to just use one that I already have. I might change my mind though, we shall see! Plug it in and place the heater inside of the enclosed area.

You are ALMOST done!

Step 6: All Warmed Up (with No Place You Have to Go!)

Now that you have the blanket strung underneath the table you will see that you have a good amount of extra at the end. This is done so that whoever is using it can drape it around the back of the chair and then over their lap. Thereby keeping the nice hot air from disappearing when you pull your chair into the table.

Now, get down to your studying

without a fear of frostbite!

I hope you enjoyed this instructable.

Feel free to contact me with any questions!

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    14 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I need one of these for my popup folding trailer this spring vacation. Thank you for giving me an idea !


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Ice crystals on the INSIDE of your windows... Alaska definitely needs more kotatsu power haha.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Great job!

    Cup hooks, would be a good substitute for the screws! And grommets would eliminate the need to sew on rings!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I like this, and I am glad to see that it comes out of some place I know. Even if I spent most of my youth in Anchorage


    4 years ago

    Very very cool!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Great job!

    & for your next do-it-yourself project ask your daughter about the heated toilet seats than are in almost every house in Japan. ;-)


    4 years ago

    Too bad I live in Texas! Haha!!


    4 years ago

    This is awesome! I home school my kids and right now my daughter is studying about Japan. We have read about the kotatsu, but never thought of making one ourselves. This might be out next art project! Thank you!

    What a great idea! I live in San Francisco, not Alaska, but I think I might like to have one of these sometimes on cold mornings, haha.