A self-proclaimed ‘kotatsu café’, Stay Happy in Shimokitazawa is run by a cosmopolitan, English-speaking Japanese couple who travelled the world before opening their comfy base. They’ve got hammocks, communal tables and around half a dozen kotatsu for your snuggling pleasure.
As Japanese houses aren’t exactly well insulated and central heating has yet to make inroads, the kotatsu is an absolutely essential piece of furniture for surviving the chilly season. It’s basically a low table with a small heater underneath and a blanket draped over it; you’re supposed to slip your lower body into the contraption, close the ‘curtains’ and just take in the fuzzy feeling. A larger kotatsu can fit an entire family; it's similar to sitting together around a campfire – without the flying soot or the hassle of maintaining the fire, of course. Other than buying one for your home, your best shot for experiencing it is at a kotatsu-equipped café, bar or izakaya. Here are five of our favourites in or near Tokyo.