One of my favorite things about Matsumoto Backpackers was the personal touch of hot water bottles at night. It’s an older Japanese home, which means that the insulation is not up to Minnesota standards. The Japanese approach to winter is to heat one’s body rather than one’s space. Usually you’ll have one heated room, like the common room in the hostel or a living room in one’s home, but you dart into the rest as fast as you can manage before arriving back to the warm room. You can buy all sorts of cozy sleepwear and lounge clothes at the store, but the ultimate in nighttime heat is to have a big bottle of hot water. It’ll stay warm all night if you keep it close. So around 4pm the hostel staff would begin boiling big pots of water to fill all the 15 or so beds. They’d be placed between the futon folds so that your bed is already warm when you climb in. It’s the perfect way to combat the frigid alpine air.