pocket warmer

カイロ (kairo) pocket warmer

hand warmer

【 カイロ・kairo 】pocket warmer, hand warmer

The kanji for カイロ is 懐炉.

The kunyomi (Japanese reading) of 懐 is ふところ, which means “chest,” and 炉 is the kanji for “fireplace, oven, furnace.”

Back in the old Edo days, they used to wrap a heated stone in a piece of cloth—this was called 温石(おんじゃく)—and slipped them in the chest area under their kimono to keep warm (since there were no pockets, of course). 温石 was the beginning of the 懐炉(かいろ), a portable warmer to warm the chest area, which then evolved into the pocket warmer.

The handy air-activated disposable カイロ that are popular today were first produced in 1975 in Japan, inspired by foot warmers that the US Army used.

ホカロン(hokaron) and ホッカイロ(hokkairo) are well-known カイロ brands.

Can you guess how they came up with the name?

The onomatopoeia for “warm, toasty” is ホカホカ hoka hoka!

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