Underneath is a heat source, formerly a charcoal brazier but now electric , often built into the table itself. The history of the kotatsu begins in the Muromachi period or Ashikaga shogunate during the fourteenth century. Charcoal was the primary method of cooking and heating in the traditional Japanese household and was used to heat the irori. On top of the wooden platform a quilt was placed, known as an oki that trapped and localized the heat of the charcoal burner. The formation of the hori-gotatsu was slightly changed in the Edo period during the seventeenth century.
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It got the nickname the "knee mortar" because of an erroneous Allied belief that these launchers could be fired by propping its plate against the leg. However, anyone trying to fire it this way would receive a severe bruise or sometimes a broken thigh bone from its hefty recoil. The Japanese Army, noting that grenades were short-ranged weapons, began efforts to optimize these weapons for close-in infantry fighting. As part of this effort, the Japanese Army had adopted by a set of fragmentation grenades with almost universal adaptability.
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