By Masashi Mark Sato
Winter is cold, and Tokyo is no exception. It might not be as cold as other countries like Norway or Russia, but it can still make students shiver and want to stay in bed. Therefore, I would like to introduce to you some items that Japanese students use to help them survive the winter.
1. Kairo (disposable heating pad)
This little pack of sand is magical. After opening the package, it will start getting warm as you shake and squeeze the pack. Once it gets warm, keep it in your pocket and it will stay warm for a good eight to twelve hours depending on the brand. When your hands are cold, you can just put your hands in the pocket and feel the warmth even if you are outside. There are also different types of kairo. For example, the popular type of kairo has a sticky side, so that it can be stuck on your inner cloth to keep specific parts of your body warm. Kairo is sold at any supermarket or convenience store for a reasonable price. It will surely keep your hands warm during finals.
2. FREE Pocket Tissues
Winter is the season of sickness. Many people catch cold or flu due to the drop in temperature. Even if it is not severe, you might find yourself sneezing or having a runny nose. At such times pocket tissues will come in handy, and amazingly, in Tokyo you can get pocket tissues for free! In Japan, pocket tissues are often used as a tool for advertisement, and in places like Shibuya and Shinjuku in Tokyo, there is always someone handing out pocket tissues with an advertisement for free. However, be aware that some pocket tissues might contain inappropriate advertisement. And most importantly, it might not be a good idea to go ask for one. Take one only when they hand it out.
3. Canned Hot Drinks
While kairo can warm up one’s body from the outside, hot drinks helps people warm up from the inside. In Tokyo, there are many business men who spend every morning at a café, holding a cup of coffee in one hand and newspaper in other. For students, though, café is considered too expensive to go often, and many would prefer to either have it on the go, or bring it to their morning classes. Because of this, hot canned drinks are quite popular among students. It is wallet-friendly, and you can find it anywhere in Tokyo; during winter, almost all vending machines sell hot drinks. Additionally, cans are really warm (almost too hot to hold), so you can use it like a kairo to warm your hands up before drinking.
These items might be small and cheap, however it will be a good idea to just have them in your pocket. There will be a time when that little pack of sand or can of coffee will help you get through a cold day. Or who knows, a handsome guy or pretty girl might ask you for tissue!
Mark is a first-year student at the University of Tokyo.