Berkeley CSUA MOTD:Entry 42371
Berkeley CSUA MOTD
2022/01/20 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular

2006/3/22-23 [Reference/History/WW2/Japan, Reference/RealEstate] UID:42371 Activity:moderate
        "The winter I spent in Seoul was the most comfortable winter of my
        life," reports an English friend. "With life in Korea, as in Japan,
        lived mainly on the floor, the ondol was very cozy, even when it
        was minus 20 degrees outside."
        jrleek, is this true?
        \_ The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.
        \_ Why wouldn't it be?  Even in the US, radiant floor heating is
           generally considered the most comfortable.
        \_ Traditional ondol has one spot that's *really* hot(too
           uncomfortable for my taste) and it gradually cools as further
           from the heat source it gets.  Traditionally, the elders got the
           hotspot.  The bad thing is that most homes with ondol are heated
           by a charcoal like thing, and if there's any crack in the pipe that
           runs under the floor, people can die from carbon monoxide poisoning.
           Carbon monoxide poisoning was actually quite common in the 70s and
           \_ You can buy carbon monoxide detectors for about $20.  In
              fact, everyone with a gas heater should consider buying some.
           \_ When were you last in Korea that most homes with ondol were
              heated by charcoal?  That's extremely rare these days, even
              in the countryside. -jrleek
        \_ Sure, heated floors are pretty great.  I think Koreans tend to
           turn it up too high, but that's personal taste.  It's
           pretty efficent too. In modern times it's usually done by
           piping hot water through the floor from the hot water heater.
           This is done in states too, but isn't as common.  It has the
           This is done in the US too, but isn't as common.  It has the
           disadvantage of being really expensive to fix, and only
           lasting about 30 years.  This is ok in Korea as they tear
           everything down within 30 years anyhow. -jrleek
           \_ On a moderately-related note, this is also done for driveways
              and walkways in cold places. Several Tahoe-area ski resorts
              have heated pavement in one place or another. I always wonder
              what the energy and maintenence costs for something like this
              \_ I suspect the answer is "cheaper than getting them cleared
                 with a snowplow, snowblower, or shovel frequently enough to
                 keep them useable."
        \_ here is a crazy idea:
           - implement "wet installation" for the pipes, burry them in a
             relatively large concrete slap.
           - route those pipe to Solar panels, using Sun to heat the water
           - use concrete floor's heat capacity to store the heat
           this way, one can have a relatively warm house in the evenings
           without flip the heater on, no?
        \_ i'll ondol YOUR floor
           \_ eww.  Well at least let me put down some newspaper first.
2022/01/20 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular

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BILL STONEHILL It's not uncommon for Tokyo, which sits right on the border between semi-tropical and temperate zones, to be paralyzed by a snowfall of about two inches (four centimeters). Tokyoites are not used to snow, and even the slightest downfall can snarl up the city. Despite the fact that the snow all melts within three days, the city comes to a halt as the inhabitants huddle around their heaters beneath layers of blankets. It is a string of northern islands off the coast of Siberia. The southernmost main island of Japan, Kyushu, lies partially off the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula, itself no tropical paradise. The other three main Japanese islands parallel the Siberian coast, stretching the length of California up towards the Arctic circle. Japan should be one big icicle, and just as miserable as Siberia. It isn't because it is warmed by the North Pacific Current. So, Kyushu is semi-tropical, like Southern California, while Korea, just a bare 100 miles (190 kilometers) away, shivers through arctic winters. The North, from above Tokyo on up, gets lots of snow, but it never gets cold like Siberia. Even so, why don't the Japanese figure out how to heat their houses? "When I first came to Japan three years ago, I thought the Japanese were the stupidest people in the world," says Mint Woo, a pretty, 32-year-old Korean ad-account executive working in Tokyo. The Koreans, unlike the Japanese, are typically outspoken. "The Japanese didn't have any way to heat their houses in winter," Mint continues, "and I've never been colder in my life. I don't think that they're stupid anymore, but I still think the way the Japanese heat their houses -- or maybe I should say, don't heat their houses -- is the stupidest thing I've ever seen." Probably it's an outgrowth of traditional Japanese architecture, where no provision was made to heat houses at all. Few modern apartments have any type of central heating or air conditioning built into them either. When you rent an apartment, you have to buy your own heating and air conditioning unit. Japanese buildings, even the most very expensive ones, are built totally without insulation, and double-paned windows or storm windows are almost completely unknown. No Japanese house is built with either a chimney or a fireplace, and to make the situation even worse, Japanese homes and apartments are built with entire walls of sliding glass doors. "Japanese houses are built for summer," Kano Kimiyoshi, an old friend, once explained to your reporter, "and because the Japanese perhaps came originally from the South Seas, Japanese houses exhibit traits of tropical dwellings, such as being raised off the ground." Ando Kenichi, your reporter's old landlord, who once rented him a traditional Japanese house in which he spent a freezing winter, has another take on it. "Japanese houses are dark and cold during the winter and stink during the summer." Ando-San felt that traditional Japanese houses were unlivable and himself lived in a Western-style house. Yet even Western style dwellings in Japan would (and do) dismay any Westerner who has to live in one through a winter. In addition to all of the faults listed above, Japanese heating devices are also inefficient and sometimes outright dangerous. Japanese heat only one, or at most two, rooms of their house, and central heating or air conditioning is unknown outside of the very largest buildings. With no built-in heating units in any apartments or other rentals, it is up to tenants to supply their own. The standard type of heating/air conditioning unit is a cheap tinny device, increasingly made in China or Malaysia to cut costs. It functions as a heater in winter and an air conditioner in summer, and it doesn't do a good job at either. It is mounted high up on the wall near the ceiling by installers who have the mechanical aptitude of circus seals. After they have finished bashing holes in walls (usually the wrong ones), hammering up pieces of wood with bent nails sticking out everywhere, and leaving assorted tubes and pipes draped over the interior wall, the whole thing ends up as a boxy radiator-fan which is dumped unceremoniously outdoors wherever it can fit. Neighbors move out -- disposing of a heater/air conditioner costs money -- leaving the radiator unit to rust in the front yard. Such heat as they produce is all shot straight at the ceiling, leaving anything below shoulder height frigid. Most people also put down an electric carpet to counter this, so you end up with warm feet and warm shoulders and everything in between half-frozen. Everywhere else in the house remains the temperature of outdoors. Even having one room in the house badly heated is a huge improvement over traditional heating, if you can call it that. When people speak of traditional Japanese houses as being made of paper and bamboo, they are not too far off the mark. Add to this sliding doors and windows, which cannot be made airtight or even stop the breeze from whistling through them, and about the only place to get warm is in a scalding bath. Maybe this explains why the Japanese are so addicted to hot springs. Chimneys and fireplaces were unknown in traditional houses. Such heating as there was came either from individual hibachi, which threw out about as much heat as the average ashtray, or via kotatsu. The kotatsu was a hole dug in the floor into which you could put your feet. Over this went a short-legged table, and over the table went a very heavy, broad coverlet that extended about a meter on all sides from the table. 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