As we already told you in our collection of curiosities of Japan , Japanese bath culture is deeply integrated into the Japanese lifestyle . Whether in its domestic or community version, the Japanese bathroom moves away from the Western conception, which conceives it as a mere hygienic question: for the Japanese it implies a moment of disconnection and purification both corporal and mental according to the philosophy of the Japanese proverbs .
Do you want to go deeper into the world of Japanese bathing to understand the dimension it reaches? If so, join us next to discover its three main spaces: the Ofuro, the Sento and the Onsen. Find out which one will be your favorite!
Discover Japanese bath culture | Ofuro, Onsen and much more
Areas of the Japanese bath: hygiene and relaxation
The first thing you should know is that any type of Japanese bathroom (both private and public) is differentiated into two areas, and it is unthinkable to conceive them together.
- First, the shower area , where one will sit on a plastic or wooden stool and rinse with the shower handle or by throwing a bucket full of water on it.
- Only when it is completely clean can you access the bathroom area , where the ofuro or Japanese bathtub is located, and that will have a floor with drainage to absorb all the water that falls.
Japanese bath types: Ofuro, Onsen and Sento
1. Japanese Ofuro
He ofuro is the name that receives the Japanese bathtub , deeper and smaller than the western ones, offering only the space required for the water to cover us well. It is common for Japanese houses to have an office room, since bath time is an indispensable habit of day to day.
Another aspect to take into account the Japanese ofuro is the temperature of the water, extremely hot . To maintain the heat, it is necessary to cover the bathtub once its use is over or to opt for an electrical system in charge of regulating this temperature, reheating it when it decreases some degrees.
All family members bathe in the same water for a couple of days; hence the importance of keeping it clean and warm. Although it is usually respected, not all families follow this rule; some even choose Share your Japanese bath time with your young children , taking advantage of the occasion to interact with them.
In short, the main function of the Japanese ofuro is relaxation, and something worth noting is that all these measures followed in the use of ofuro favor the recycling and conservation of water .
For those who do not have a Japanese office at home, there is the possibility of attending the so-called Sento, a communitarian Japanese bath divided by sexes which can be visited daily for an affordable price.
The entrance is indicated by a curtain called noren and inside you can find different common pools or bathtubs with non-thermal hot water . These "common bathtubs" can be of different types: with aromatic herbs, with extremely cold water or even with small electric discharges. Another common feature of the Sento is that some walls are decorated with typical landscapes of Japan, as is the case of Mount Fuji, to move their customers to an ideal environment.
The procedure is exactly the same as that followed in the domestic Japanese ofuro; yes, we must go completely naked, only loaded with the corresponding hygiene products and a small towel to wash (not to cover us!). The rest of the belongings must remain in our ticket office.
In fact, the discomfort shown by young people in the face of nudity is a factor that worries the older ones, who conceive the experience of the Sento as an opportunity to socialize. However, in recent times this more social character is losing positions little by little.
3. Onsen in Japan
The Japanese country is located in an area of enormous volcanic activity, so there are many areas with natural thermal waters. It is thanks to this fact that we can count on a large amount of Onsen in Japan; natural thermal baths located in beautiful landscape enclaves They are considered a form of relaxation that is well worth a break.
Its operation is exactly the same as that described in the previous types of Japanese bath. While it is true that some are mixed, in most it is still forbidden to enter with tattoos ; although with the passage of time they begin to be less strict regarding this measure. In addition, there are two different types of Onsen, the interior (covered) and the exterior (which is called rotenburo).
Its high temperatures, which they are usually around 40ºC , can cause dizziness to people who are not used to it. For this reason, it is advisable that we go in little by little and that the time we spend in the Onsen does not exceed 10 minutes.
The benefits that the Onsen report in Japan are numerous: besides the relaxation, the richness of the thermal waters in mineral salts gives us therapeutic properties for arthritis, diabetes, blood circulation and body exfoliation .
And where can the Onsen be found in Japan? Although there are exclusive Onsen, especially those that are part of the so-called Ryokan or hotels in traditional Japanese style . In them you can not only enjoy the Onsen, but you can live an authentic Japanese experience that includes dressing up with yukata, sleeping on a futon or tasting a typical Japanese breakfast (which has nothing to do with the Western).
In the Ryokan, a traditional Japanese-style hotel. There you can not only bathe in different Onsen, but it will offer you a complete Japanese experience: you can put on a Yukata after the bath, sleep on a futon and you can even enjoy a typical Japanese breakfast (which has nothing to do with the Western). We take this opportunity to recommend that, If you are traveling to Japan, do not miss the experience of spending at least one night in a Ryokan .
We hope you found it interesting to get a little closer to the Japanese bath culture. We find it fascinating! Leave us your impressions in the comments section and tell us. Are you traveling to Japan soon? Did you already know the different types of Japanese bath? We will read you happy!