JAPAN Local Guide

-Chubu Region
Home » Chubu » -Chubu Region » The Japanese Bath

The Japanese Bath

When I visited the United States to participate in a home stay, the thing that puzzled me most was the layout of the bathroom. In the U.S., the bathtub and the toilet are usually in the same room, and the shower is installed inside of the bathtub.
The first time I saw this American style bathroom design, I thought to myself, “How in the world am I going to be able to wash AND soak in the bath?” It is at this point I started to appreciate how much “soaking” in a tub is part of traditional Japanese culture.

Layout of a Japanese-style Bathroom

To start with, the toilet and the bathtub are usually situated in different rooms and almost always on the ground floor of the house.
A shower and drain are installed at the side of the bathtub itself and the floor is tiled to prevent water leaking through the floor. This is done so that we can wash our bodies before entering the tub.
The hot water in the tub is not for washing our bodies but rather for soaking, after washing. The tub is filled once in the evening and all members of the family will take their turn soaking in the same bathwater before the tub is emptied.

However, small, studio style apartments and hotels will often feature a “unit bathroom” which has a toilet and bath in the same room, similar to bathrooms found in the U.S. and Europe.

Reusing Bath Water for Laundry

It is customary to change bathtub water everyday after everyone has finished soaking. Since the remaining hot water is often used to launder clothes, washing machines are often installed adjacent to the bath or in the next room. Hoses are sold for the sole purpose of transferring water from the bathtub to the washing machine.


A Place for Communication

During my childhood, I would bathe with my family, have my body and hair washed, and scrub the back of my parents in turn. Now as an adult, I like to travel to hot spring resorts with my friends or partner, and enjoy chatting with them as we relax together in the warm bath.

In other words, talking together while in the bath is one form of communication among Japanese. The fact that there are many hot springs and public baths may speak to the fact that communicating while bathing is part of our cultural heritage.

Let’s Go to a Public Bath!

If you want to experience this Japanese bath culture, I recommend trying a public bathhouse or hot spring. You can soak in the bathtub and experience a scene from the everyday life of a Japanese. However, because there are rules in public bathhouses, please take note of the following precautions:

– Wash your body thoroughly in the shower before entering the bathtub. Most public baths and hot springs provide soap and shampoo.
– Take a small towel with you but do not place your towel inside the bathtub. You can wear it on your head or place it next to the bath.
– Put up your hair so that it does not come into contact with the bathwater.
– After getting out of the bath, wipe excess water from your body with your small towel before exiting the bathroom so that you do not trail water through the changing rooms.

Why not try experiencing a profound aspect of Japanese culture by relaxing in a Japanese public bath?

Comments are closed.

Pick Up