Public bath rules

Japanese people love to take baths inside really hot water(40~50 degrees Celsius). Maybe is their lack of swimming pools or maybe is just that being a volcanic island makes it easy to build baths from hot spring water. Here there is some of the basic vocabulary related to the Japanese bath culture.

  • お風呂(ofuro): “bath” in general.
  • 銭湯(sentou): public “bath”. There is usually one “sentou” in each neibourhood, they are divided in one big bathtub for men an and one for women.
  • 温泉(onsen): hot spring. “Onsen” are located in volcanic areas.
  • 露天風呂(rotenburo): outdoor bath.
  • 野天風呂(notenburo): indoor bath.

The water is usually around 43 degrees, but it can be up to 50. I can go inside even when the water is 45, but no more! Japanese like the water to be REALLY hot. Next there is a poster with some of the rules you have to know before going to an “onsen” or “sentou”:

Original size

  • Do not take a bath with your underwear on.
  • Do not waste water.
  • Do not bring your towel with you into the tub.
  • Wipe yourself off before coming out to the dressing area.
  • Washing clothes of is not allowed.
  • Make sure to wash yourself well before getting into the tub.

I respect all these rules. But there is another rule, that is not written in this poster but everyone knows it, you can’t enter the bathing area with sandals. It’s a stupid rule! I think it’s one of the reasons why it’s so easy to get “athletes foot”(水虫=mizumushi= “bug water”), in summer you see that one of the most featured products in drugstores are ointments to treat fungus. They could start using sandals, I don’t think it would hard anyone, but sometimes stupid rules are difficult to change…

11 Replies to “Public bath rules”

  1. It’s missing a little cartoon guy sitting in the bath with bubbles coming out from under him “Please do no fart in the bath.”

  2. This comment is in no way meant to be a perverse joke.

    What is the etiquette regarding pubic/body hair ? Because seriously, I think someone who is relatively to excessively hairy, might not be entirely welcomed into the the bath.

    Kind of gross if you think about sitting in a bath with some other dudes hairs floating around you.

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