Central heating system in Edo era

Due to continuous cold wave, temperature is still low in these days.

We need to keep room warm in Winter.
However, it is since 1950 that mankind have started to use gas, oils and electronics.

Of course, people before 1950 had to take warm in some way.
Recently, it became common for Japanese houses to use central heating system.
Main machine to control air conditioning is installed and it sends controlled air to every room.
Until then, before decade or two, the main style of air conditioning in Japan is to install air-conditioner in each room.

And it’s still the case for many houses and apartments.
Only some new houses have the central heating system.
I live in a 3LDK apartment room (i.e. 3 bed room type), so I had to install 4 air-conditioner in 3 bed rooms and living/dining room.

I keep air-conditioners working in Winter.
I can’t imagine to live without air-conditioners… I might be freeze to death…

However, there were no such nice air-conditioner until 100 years ago.
How did people in old ages kept warm?
In Edo-era when Samurais and Ninja were active, using fire by firewood to keep room warm is strictly prohibited to prevent large fire of the Edo city.
It is too risky to allow people to use fire inside home (except for cooking), because houses in that era were made by wood and the houses were highly congested.

So, the main way to keep warm in the era was charcoal.

charcoal in edo era

However, I think it must not warm enough.
Charcoal should ‘ve taken time to warm entire room warm.
But charcoal can’t last long.
It burns out in a couple of hours.

Therefore, we never use charcoal nowadays even though Japanese put emphasis on traditional things…
Braziers are no longer used.
Nor we use hearth, the traditional equipment to warm up room and cook at the same time.

irori stove in traditional living room

Different from architectural hardware and antique interior (which are still loved by some sort of people), traditional items that couldn’t have kept our lives comfortable enough are abolished and became extinct.
The traditional items that is still used today are there because they are practical enough.

I will add more products of this kind.
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blog author hiro

Author - Hiro

Lived in Kyoto in school days, I was impressed by profundity of history and tradition of the city. Had a job to join the three major festivals of Kyoto: Aoi, Jidai and Gion festivals. Love Kyoto and Japanese culture.
Manager of OrientalSouls.com, selling items of Japanese culture, tradition and craftsmanship. I'll introduce interesting information about Japan!

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