“Warm Share” Initiative Rewards Environmentally Friendly Residents with Discounts and Free Coffee

As much as Japanese people love to go on about how “Japan has four distinct seasons, you know!” (yes, so does the UK…), the gap between summer and winter – that fantastic period when you’re neither dripping with sweat nor trying to get the feeling back in your fingers –  is mercilessly short, and we already seem to be at the end of it.

Japanese buildings are usually made from lightweight materials and, outside of places like Hokkaido in the north, have very little insulation, which means they start getting cold as early as late October. By the time January arrives, you’re wearing a wooly hat in bed and putting off getting up as long as possible since it means surrendering your body to the icy air in the kitchen while frantically boiling the kettle to make a cup of anything hot.

While most of us try to be sparing in our use of our heating (except my neighbour who runs her air conditioner 24/7 so that it constantly sounds like there’s a car idling outside…), more often than not we burn more gas and electricity than we really need to, locked away in our private little sanctuaries.

With this in mind, a number of businesses, shops and community centres in Japan have launched a new campaign for winter, known as Warm Share, which encourages people to switch off their heating at home and head out to a heated public area where, as the name implies, they share the warmth with everyone else.

It’s good for the environment, it’s good for your wallet, it gets you out of the house.

But perhaps the coolest thing about Warm Share is the fact that many locations offer discount coupons and completely free hot drinks to visitors who simply utter the magic words: “I switched off my heating and came here instead.”

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