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The trees have been bare for some time, and while the days are already getting longer, the mercury is staying persistently low. Winter is here and it’s exactly the right time to make ourselves wonderfully cozy within our own four walls. But while most of us in these parts can enjoy a fully-heated apartment, in Japan, many people have to make do without a heated bathroom. It sounds harmless, although unpleasant, but it can be fatal!

Men died in bathroom - illustration

Anyone currently thinking this must be a few isolated cases would be wrong. According to research from the City of Tokyo, around 10,000 people die each year in clanking, cold bathrooms in the land of the rising sun.

This is because in Japan, central heating is not particularly widespread, and there is generally poor insulation for the separate rooms where toilets are located. In some cases, this leads to extreme temperature differences between individual rooms. As a consequence, there are rapid rises in pulse and blood pressure, which drastically increases the risk of heart failure.

To avoid these tragic deaths in the future, the Japanese Health Ministry is running an extensive information and prevention campaign, but the tips they provide could also be applied elsewhere. There are still some houses and apartments heated using stoves, which leads to large differences in temperature:

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