Relaxing In A Japanese Hot Spring

Relaxing In A Japanese Hot Spring

Eri Minamimoto, Staff Writer

Do you take a bath or shower every day?

Actually, when I came to America, I was very surprised by the difference in how American  people take baths. That’s because Japanese people take baths every day, and we also have different ways to clean our bodies. For the Japanese, the main idea of taking a bath is to clean the body and relax. So, I want to explain how Japanese people take bath and also the history of baths in Japan.

First, many Japanese soak in hot water before going to bed to recover from the day’s fatigue. In Japan, we don’t often end up taking a shower like people do abroad. Japan is home to many hot spring resorts that attract many visitors. We go to hot springs because we want to experience a different atmosphere and soak in a hot spring to soothe our bodies and minds. Hot springs have a number of benefits that hot water does not have. Basically, in hot springs, men and women are separated and bathe naked. The open-air baths in the spa area have a great view and are very impressive!

In Japan, people who have tattoos may not be able to enter open facilities. Those who do get in rinse or pour hot water over their body to cleanse it before entering the hot spring. When washing the body, it is done in a special area called a washing-up area. It is also important to keep one’s hair up so it doesn’t get soaked in hot water. It’s slippery, too; so, walk with caution! Towels should not be dipped in the hot springs, either. There are many precautions, but all of them are necessary to keep the hot spring water clean.

Second, I would like to explain the history of hot springs. Hot spring bathing started in Greece. People in the Greece were used to taking showers to clean their body. But, why are Greek people not soaking in hot water now? They are related with religions. Most people in Greece are Christian. Some priests started to say they can’t take baths. So, Greece’s culture of soaking in the bath was disappearing over time. Most people in Japan believe in Buddhism. People who believe in Buddhism believe soaking in water cleanses a person. So, that habit started during the Edo era, which means about 300 years ago.

Comparing different cultures and habits is very interesting. Sometimes habits are related to culture, religion, languages. This is true with hot springs.