Japan Fun Fact #5
|Photo from Japan Guide.|
Japanese people typically do not take showers in the morning; they take a bath in the evening. The “bathroom” in Japan is exactly that; the toilet is always in a separate room, except in small apartments where there is a “unit bath.” The bathroom (again, aside from unit baths) consists of a large tub and a shower area. Most Japanese sit down on a stool for the “shower,” but don’t always use the shower head. One soaps up outside the tub, and either showers to rinse off or uses a small plastic bowl filled with water, poured over the head or shoulders, to rinse. Then one luxuriates in the tub, which has a water intake and outlet to circulate the tub water through a heating system to keep the water warm. In many Japanese families, the same water is kept for everyone (usually father first, smallest child last).
A few myths about Japanese bathing to be dispelled: first, Tom Clancy’s Debt of Honor (his last even semi-readable book, before he descended into mediocrity) aside, Japanese typically do not go to bath houses, especially with work colleagues. Sometimes people might enjoy the luxury of a special bath house, but otherwise bath houses (“sento“) tend to be for people with no bath at home. Second, Japanese rarely bathe in mixed-sex baths. It may be true still in a few small countryside villages and a few scattered hot springs (“onsen“), but not in most places in Japan. There is probably more mixed bathing in California, to be honest.