Bath culture in Japan.
Living in Japan, have you noticed that Japanese people are very fond of taking bath? When consider finding a place to live, no matter how small the room size is, an apartment must have a bathtub inside the bathroom. Only showering is considered an unsatisfied accommodation, the last thing one would wish for. However, if there is a public bath shop (Sentou) near the apartment, then that’s a different story.
A Japanese style of bathtub is larger in depth than other counterparts in the rest of the world. This is because people would like to soak body deep inside, only leave head above hot water. In a sense, bathing itself is considered more of way of relaxation rather than wash the body —— you are supposed to wash your body outside the tub before taking bath. Other than that, bathing can help elevating body temperature, eliminating fatigue and help people to sleep better.
Going to public baths (Sentou) can be really enjoyable, if one doesn’t mind being naked in front of other bathers. Sentou offers varies hot spring baths, both inside and outside the room, with different minerals which is believed to bring specific health benefits of each. Some large-scale Sentou shops, provide Sauna room, massage services, relaxing space for taking a nap, Manga-reading corner, even gift shop and good quality restaurant. It’s easy to spend couple of hours by taking a bath and subsequently enjoy some services, taking a meal. Before going to Sentou, make sure to know some manners: washing body thoroughly before taking the bath, do not put towels inside the water, long hair needs to be tied to keep them from touching the water, keep quiet during the bathing time and do not move body violently such as flapping the water. Most importantly, people with Tattoo are generally not allowed to enter Sentou at first place. This is because Tattoo images are associated with gangsters and crimes. Although recently, there are some Tattoo friendly public baths have become available since Tattoo is becoming popular in many foreign countries as one of fashion style. It would be shame if visiting Japan but not be able to enjoy Onsen (Hot springs) or Sentou just because of wearing tattoo.
Onsen, specifically means the natural hot springs, contains different kinds of minerals, are all over Japan. There are about 3000 hot spring resorts in the whole country. A popular leisure activity is going to a Onsen Ryokan(hotel), enjoy their private hot spring and an extravagant meal afterwards. Most of them located in beautiful mountain area with seasonal changing landscapes, for my opinion, an outdoor hot spring surrounded by white snow is definitely the epitome of bathing culture of Japan.