KAIRO – Must Have Item for winter in Hokkaido

Disposable Heat Pack for Winter

Since it’s freezing cold in winter in Hokkaido especially January and February, you’d better know how to keep your hands or body warm if you visit here in winter. Especially if you are planing to visit Sapporo Snow Festival, you must read it!!!

Related Post : Sapporo Snow Festival 2018

Disposable Heat Pad “KAIRO – カイロ

This time I introduce you disposable heat pad “KAIRO“. A long-time bestseller, these heating pads come in several shapes and sizes, and are sold in Japan at convenience and drug stores for around ¥100. This is a must-have item for anyone surviving the winter in Japan, Hokkaido. Kairo pads, literally meaning “pocket stove” release heat through the oxidization of iron and take only a few minutes to warm up to 50 degrees celsius after they’re exposed to air. Some of them are available to attach to your clothes (for your back, stomach or even in your shoes), these pads are a perfect to stay under cold weather.

History of Kairo

Kairo is a holder containing heat-generating liquid or powder that one can carry around to stay warm. It is written as 懐炉/カイロ in Japanese: the characters mean “pocket stove”.

When looking back on the history of kairo, people kept warm in the 17th and 18th centuries by heating stones, sand or salt, then wrapping them in cloth and putting the bundles in their chest pockets of their clothing. Around the same time, ash-type kairo, made of charcoal and wood ash mixed together and placed in a metal holder, appeared on the market.

In the 20th century, hakukin kairo was invented, which utilized the scientific reaction between platinum metal and the flammable liquid benzene. It had to be wrapped up in cloth when used, or it would get too hot. Hakukin kairo products from many companies appeared on the market, and in a flash, the use of kairo became routine.

Since 1975, disposable kairo, which are now the most commonly-used type of kairo, have progressively become more and more advanced. This kairo comes in a special film that prevents exposure to air. When opened, it is designed so a chemical reaction with the air occurs and the kairo heats up.

There are several types of disposable kairo. Some are designed to be stuck to a layer of clothing or carried in a pocket, and still others are made specifically for feet. A kairo‘s heat will reach a temperature of 50°C to 68°C (122°F to 154°F); the sticky variety retains this heat for 12 to 14 hours, while the non-sticky variety lasts for 18 to 20 hours. In the winter, kairo is very convenient when going outdoors.

Several Types of Kairo

There are several types and size of Kairo!

Disposable Type

The most popular one. Easy to use.

Disposable Sticky Type

Useful! You can put it on your T-Shirt etc. *Do Not put it directly on your skin!

Shoes Type

Disposable Heat Pad for shoes. This gives you a feather when you walk outside long time in winter.

Eco type (Gel)

It can be warmed using hot water. It’s re-usable, and will stay warm for up to one hour.

 

How to use it?

You ‘d better use Disposable Sticky Type to warm up a particularly cold spot on your body, and they are quite convenient. It is said that warming up the sacrum (the bone located at the base of the spine, slightly above the buttocks) is an effective way to relieve pain symptoms like backaches and menstrual cramps. Give it a try yourself.

Let’s talk about how to use kairo. Open the package as seen above. The sticky side with the paper seal is the one to attach to your clothing.

Remove the seal.

Attach the sticky side to your clothing. After five minutes, the kairo will heat up. Take care not to stick kairo directly onto your skin, or on a place where it could touch your skin! It could result in first-degree burns. Once the kairo loses its heat, quickly remove it from your clothing. The more time passes, the more difficult it will be to remove.

Activate the non-sticky variety of kairo by removing it from its bag and giving it a vigorous shake. Once the contents mix together, the kairo will heat up.

Japanese winters are extremely cold, but you can overcome the chill of the season with this helpful trick. Whenever you think it’s too cold to bear, drop by a drugstore or convenience store and pick up a disposable kairo.

 

Where can I buy it?

 

In Sapporo these are for sale pretty much everywhere, pharmacies, discount stores and train stations were easy shops to find them. (ex Daiso, sometimes in the corner stores like 7-eleven and regularly in the discount pharmacies).

It costs 100 yen – 400 yen (depends on the type and pcs). Standard one and sticky type are mostly the cheapest one.

Related Post : Sapporo Snow Festival 2018