Using Kerosene Heaters in Japan

Oct 20, 2014

Using Kerosene Heaters in Japan

Kerosene_HeaterOutside of Tokyo and other urban areas, central heating is not really a thing in Japan.  High end properties will off such amenities, but generally heating your entire home uniformly is avoided, as heating spaces not being actively used is seen as wasteful here.  Instead, rooms in the home are heated using a portable heater or space heater dedicated to that room.  Within the market for these smaller heating devices there are a lot of options, and the one that’s best for your needs will entirely depend on your circumstances.

In this article we will be discussing kerosene heaters, which are a way of life in many parts of Japan during the cold winter months.  They are popular options because they are cheaper than some other options and they heat up the room seemingly instantaneously, much faster than electric.  While these devices are popular options, it is important to be very cautious when using them, as misuse and neglecting basic safety precautions could result in serious damage and/or injury, such as carbon dioxide poisoning.

Below are a few important points to keep in mind when using kerosene heaters to help avoid undesirable situations.


  1. Do not use gasoline. Be sure to only use kerosene.
  2. Do not block the air vent with anything like clothing, paper, bags, towels, etc.
  3. Do not use the unit to dry clothing, as it might cause a fire.
  4. Do not use the unit near curtains or other combustible items.
  5. Do not sit in close proximity of the wind coming from the unit as to avoid dehydration.
  6. Do not sit or put anything on top of the unit.
  7. Do not let children operate the unit and keep them well away from the unit at all times.
  8. Do not attempt to take the unit apart of fix it. Take it to a certified technician.
  9. Do not use the unit:
    >>in confined spaces.
    >>in dusty and humid places.
    >>windy places or doorways.
    >>in direct sun light or high temperature conditions


  • Air out the room once or twice every hour
  • Turn the unit off when refilling it with kerosene.
  • Refill the tank well away from any fire.
  • Confirm that the kerosene is not leaking.
  • Keep the unit clear of all types flammable gas (gasoline, benzene, thinner, etc. )
  • Regularly clean the fan filter located in the back of the unit.
  • Turn the unit off when you out or to sleep.
  • After turning the unit off, be careful not to touch any hot parts.
  • When the unit is not in use for long periods of time or when storing it, make sure the unit is unplugged and there is no kerosene in the tank.
  • Please use a humidifier when using a Kerosene Heater.

Useful Vocabulary

The following vocabulary will be useful when purchasing kerosene.  Also, don’t forget to take your kerosene tank with you when going to get it filled. (duh!)

English Romaji Japanese Characters
Kerosene To-yu 灯油
Full Man-tan 満タン
1000 yen Sen-en 千円
2000 yen Ni-sen-en 二千円(2千円)
3000 yen San-zen-en 三千円(3千円)
Cash Gen-kin 現金
Credit Cards Ku-re-jitto Kaado クレジット・カード
Liters Rittoru リットル
Please Onegai shimasu お願いします
Please fill it up with kerosene. To-yu, mantan onegai shimasu. 灯油満タンお願いします。
I would like to pay by cash Genkin de onegai shimasu. 現金でお願いします。

*You are likely to be asked whether you would like to pay by cash (gen-kin) or credit card (kaado).

Image: Public domain from Wikipedia

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