Monday, December 30, 2013

Kairo (Keeping Warm in Japan)

If you don't know, kairo are hand warmers. They come in all different types. 

Of course before coming to Japan, I'd never seen, nor heard of hand warmers. Michigan is cold, but, well...we man up. When you get inside, it's generally warm. My Japan is not nearly as cold as Michigan. But it's colder than Michigan in the sense that you NEVER. ESCAPE. from the cold. Never. EVER.

If it's 40 degrees outside, it's 55 inside. And for that reason, kairo are a lifesaver. There are a number of types: disposable, reusable and electric. Within the reusable types are ones that can be recharged in a microwave or in boiling water. The electric ones charge for a few hours before you can use them.

Let's take a look at some of the disposable ones. 

They are cheap. They are everywhere. They come in two types: ones that you can stick on your clothing and ones that you don't. The stickable ones only need you to tear off the paper for them to start heating up. The non-stickable ones need to be shaken. You generally keep those in your pocket. 
They can come in packets of 5 - 10, or boxes of 30 or more (see above for the boxed version). The boxed kairo run about $6. There are now kairo to stick in your socks or at the bottom of your shoes, also pictured above. Those are about $2-$3. The disposable kairo last for about 6 hours and you can toss them when you're done.
I spent many nights with these stuck to my body while trying to fend off the cold long enough to get to sleep.

I'm going to skip the electric kairo and the kairo that can be recharged in the microwave or in boiling water. Those ones are nice because they are reusable, but the time spent recharging them is generally longer than the heat you get out of them. Some only last as little as 30 minutes!

Recently, I've discovered kairo that use benzine. That kairo is the Hakkin Kairo Peacock Pocket Warmer. You pour a bit of benzine into the container and put the small cap on, hold a lit match to it for a few seconds to start the chemical reaction and then put that top on. After that, the kairo heats up and stays warm for up to 24 hours!

I was initially afraid of carrying something with lighter fluid around in my pocket, but it is quite safe. It gets very warm and it is a big lifesaver! My boyfriend bought me the regular sized one on the right, but i also bought the mini...just because! The smell is a bit annoying. If you are walking around, you don't notice it. But, when you are standing or sitting in one place, it's pretty apparent. There's some cotton? inside of the tank so that fluid isn't just sloshing around.
If you are an ALT, I would definitely recommend this because it's warm, it stays warm and I know that Japanese classrooms are cold. You can find them on amazon or Tokyu Hands! Alternatively, Zippo sells a similar kairo, but the cost (in Japan) is more; 2,500 yen vs. 3,500 yen!

Now go get warmed the fuck up!

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