According to data released by Nippon Onsen Research Institute in March 2013, there are 3,108 hot spring spots, in Japan, and more than 120 million tourists visit these spots each year. Japanese’s love of bathing goes all the way back to the 6th century when the culture of bathing was brought in to the country.
In Buddhism, cleansing the body and bathing in water was considered good for health, which led temples to start having their own bathrooms.
In many other parts of the world, people are more likely to take a shower only. Instead, Japanese people take a bath daily, washing their body and relaxing in a bathtub filled with hot water.
“The beauty of the Japanese style bathing is that one can enjoy it using five senses,” said Kenichi Hasuda from the Ohuro Onsen Club. He explained that one could enjoy the outdoor scenery of hot springs or aroma therapeutic scents of bath salts at home. Watching TV or listening to music while relaxing in the bathtub is another great way to enjoy the bath time.
Hasuda also said that at a public bathhouse or at a hot spring, people enjoy bathing together with others. He added that enjoying different types of hot spring water is unique to Japanese.
Bathing in the bathtub doesn’t just help your body and mind relax. The hot spring water contains a variety of minerals, and it is said that it helps cure diseases and injuries. In addition, Japanese people cherish the time to communicate in the bathtub. When taking a bath with a sibling, parent, or a child, they tend to become more open and begin to talk about things they normally do not. At a public bathhouse, people enjoy chatting with strangers.
People have their original way of making bath time more fun and comfortable. A housewife in her 40s uses her small TV in the bathroom.
“I bring my small waterproof TV and watch it while in the bathtub. I sometimes use bath salts that make me sweat a lot. I make the most of bath time, using it for my body maintenance.”
A college student likes his grandmother’s wisdom to make bath time therapeutic.
“Whenever I visit my grandmother’s house, I enjoy the bath with yuzu, a Japanese citrus. The pleasant smell makes me relax and I think it also softens my skin,” he said.
The bathing culture of japan is unique and interesting in its own way.
Editted by Yukino Watanabe
Written by Shin Kikuchi, Moye Mizoguchi