[Diary in Omu] How to deal with the cold in Hokkaido

Before coming to Hokkaido, I used to live one year in Toyama Prefecture, which helps a Vietnamese like me get used to Japanese life and adapt myself to its winter. However, the cold in Hokkaido, especially in Mombetsu is surely at a different level. Moving to Omu (a town located in Mombetsu District) gives me a chance to know how people deal with the chill here.

Double paned windows (nijuumado – 二重窓)
Different from the single-glazing window in my previous apartment in Toyama, I’ve found out that housing in Hokkaido is installed double-paned windows to preserve heat and prevent the chilly wind from getting inside the room. The average temperature in Omu is about 9 degrees, sub-zero in the winter, and 16-25 degrees in the summer, so on extremely sunny days, when I feel a bit airtight even the vents are working, just sliding one pane is enough for my room to be more naturally ventilated but still toasty.

Using kerosene heater instead of air conditioner
Most people in Toyama are using air-conditioners because Toyama is miserably hot in summer while it’s so shivery in winter. After coming to Omu, I’ve learned how to use the kerosene heater; know that the big tank in front of every house is the oil container, leaving the heater on overnight is not only to warm the house but also to prevent the water pipes from getting frozen, and we can utilize the heat of kerosene heater to boil water or to cook.

I’ve accidentally known about this extra-function of kerosene heater when I talked about my intention of buying a pressure cooker to save my gas bill. “What kind of your heater is? It’s possible to use it to boil water or cook” said my colleague. Since then, toasted bread has become my favorite breakfast because of its deliciousness and convenience, just placing one or two slices of sandwich on the heater and wait.

However, there’re 2 points you should keep in mind:
Firstly, not all types of heaters can be used to cook. It depends on the design whether we can make use of the heat or not.
Secondly, be careful because it may catch fire, and if you spill your food on the heater, it’s not easy to clean. LOL

Setting up your water heater at 44 degrees
It is the advice given to me on the first day I came to Omu town. “Or else, the water will turn cold as soon as it comes out.”

Not only the tires but also the car wiper blade needs installing when it comes to spring and winter
For those who live in snow country, it’s common sense to have the winter tires installed so that your car won’t skate on the road.
However, I surprisingly hear that there’re two kinds of wiper blades: summer/winter and when season changes, we’d better use the right one.
Why and what are the differences between summer and winter wiper blades? After googling, I think that there’re two main reasons as following:
First, the winter blade has one moving part only, which ensures that there are no exposed parts to be clogged by snow or ice.
Second, the material used for winter blades is synthetic rubber. It’s soft, flexible, and difficult to get hard, even in sub-zero temperatures. However, because of these features, the rubber probably melts-up under the burning sun and gets stuck to the windshield if we keep using it in the hot summer.

Maybe what written here is not new or enough information for you to live with the cold in Hokkaido, but I hope it might give you a picture of life here.