For those of you, like us, who are crazy about bathing, here's some interesting reading material before we ring in the new year................reference material is from wikipedia.org
Japanese Bathing Overview
For anyone who has not had the pleasure of a Japanese bath, they really are missing out. The first rule of bathing Japanese style is that baths are not places where you clean yourself. Instead, you first rinse yourself before you enter the bath. Traditionally, you would use cold water from a bucket but a modern shower, although not too hot, will suffice.
Now enter the bath. The bath should not contain any soaps or bubbles but a collection of bath salts dependant on the effect one is after. The water is as hot as you can take it. As you immerse yourself to the neck for up to fifteen minutes, you will feel yourself drift away with the relaxing combination of salts and heat.
Well soaked now, you will next clean. To do this you get out of the bath and use the shower. Do not wash in the bath. When fully scrubbed and rinsed, re-enter the bath for another fifteen minutes. Finish with a cold shower and you will feel like a new person.
If someone else is bathing after you, don't let the water out. Because the water is only for soaking, it can be used by multiple people. The insulation of a driftwood bath will ensure it stays warm.
Japanese Bathing - Rituals and Etiquette
Bathing is an important part of the daily routine in Japan. Baths are for relaxing; the body and hair must be thoroughly scrubbed and all soap removed before entering the bathtub or ¤ªïL.Î(ofuro). This is normally done at a small faucet or shower located in the same room as the tub, while seated on a small stool. The traditional shape of the tub is smaller and deeper than is common in Western homes. A traditional Japanese bathtub is square, and deep enough that the water will cover the shoulders, but requires the bather to sit with the knees drawn up to the chest. Newer bathtubs are more like the western shape. Rather than being drained at the end of each bath, the water is kept warm by means of special heaters, and the same water is used by all the family members. After use, some homes take the hot bath water from the tub and use it to wash clothes in a washing machine. A lid is placed on the tub to maintain the water temperature when not in use, and to prevent evaporation. Any hair or debris is scooped from the water after the bath.
In homes with small tubs, each family member bathes one by one, in order of seniority, traditionally starting with the oldest male. However, many young Japanese women now refuse to bathe after their fathers. If there are guests in the home, they will be given priority. In homes with larger tubs, it is not uncommon for family members to bathe together. Typically one or both parents will bathe with babies and toddlers, and even as children grow older they may still bathe with one of their parents.
Bathtubs are increasingly common in modern Japanese homes, but there are still many homes, particularly in older or rural areas, that do not have bathtubs, so public bathhouses called sent¨ (äE?«) are common. A regular bathhouse will have tap water heated in a boiler. In all but the most rural areas baths are segregated by sex, and customers bathe nude, many using a small washcloth to cover the genitals. Hotels, pachinko parlours and other venues may have on-site sent¨ for customer use.
Patrons of traditional Japanese inns or Ryokan will be offered the use of an Ofuro for bathing, either a communal Ofuro with bathing times being scheduled in advance, or a private Ofuro.
Onsen (ÎÂÈª) are baths that by definition use naturally hot water from geothermally-heated springs, sometimes outdoors. Larger onsen will have separate pools for men and women, and visitors normally bathe nude. As with home baths, at sent¨ and onsen bathers must wash thoroughly before entering the communal baths. Many sent¨ and onsen ban customers with tattoos which are traditionally taboo, citing concerns over yakuza activity. Very rarely, non-Japanese visitors are banned, a practice regarded as xenophobia. The bathhouses respond that non-Japanese, particularly Russian sailors visiting Hokkaid¨ in northern Japan, are unfamiliar with the correct etiquette and either dirty the bathwater or behave inappropriately.
reference material from wikipedia
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