How do you warm yourself up on a cold winter night? Over the course of many years, Japanese people have enjoyed slipping into bed on cold winter nights with a hot water bottle tucked between the bed and blanket.
In Japan, the traditional hot water bottle is called yutanpo (ゆたんぽ). Around the 15th century, people started to use yutanpo as a method to warm beds prior to sleep. Back then, yutanpo was made from earthenware or metal and had a dome shape. To warm the bed, yutanpo was wrapped in a thick cloth then it is placed between bed and blanket sheets near our feet.
Today, yutanpo is still commonly used people of all ages. The size of yutanpo vary from the smallest size that is as big as the palm of your hand and can hold up to 500cc of water to a bigger size that can hold up to 2 liters of hot water inside. Commonly, yutanpo are now made from rubber or plastic to avoid skin burn when used directly to warm our body. When you buy yutanpo, usually they are paired with a cloth bag or blanket that make it look even cuter. As technology is developing, electronic yutanpo are now available in many stores. They help to save time when boiling water, and it only needs 5 to 10 minutes to charge the heat.
To use a traditional yutanpo, first boil the amount of water that your yutanpo can hold. Once the water is boiled, open the lid and pour the hot water into the bottle. Cover your yutanpo with a cloth bag, then put the yutanpo under your blanket or simply put it on the part of your body which feels cold. Traditionally, Japanese people reboil the water from yutanpo to be used the next day to save water. When you have an electric yutanpo, simply charge your yutanpo before use for about 5 minutes and you can directly use it.
If you want to have a yutanpo for yourself this winter, you could try to buy it online at Amazon (search: ゆたんぽ) or just look for it at stores such as Loft and Tokyu Hands. They offer yutanpo with varied size, shapes, and materials. Have fun shopping and stay warm!