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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Bringing Japanese culture to Bellingham: Taking a bath

Soaking in a bathtub filled with hot water, typically 40 to 42 degrees Celsius, is the most relaxing moment I’ve ever had.

One thing I’ve sincerely missed since I came to the U.S. is hot springs. Although I can’t go to a hot spring, I can still take a Japanese bath. When I first got here, the way that most Americans take a bath surprised me, since most of them literally don’t take a bath.

People in the U.S. shower constantly, however few of them fill a bathtub with hot water even though some people install bathtubs in their own house.

By contrast, most people in Japan take a bath constantly. Even in some small apartments, which only have one or two occupancy rooms, there is always a bathtub.

Some people in the U.S. do take a bath, but how they do is clearly different from how people in Japan do in a variety of ways.

First, there is no space to wash a body except the inside of a bathtub in the American-style bathroom. Because of this, it is always necessary to drain water and excess soap and shampoo after bathing.

That is not the case in the Japanese-style bathroom. There is always some separated space, like a regular shower room in the U.S., allowing you to take a shower and wash body parts right next to a bathtub.

The other big difference is that people in Japan think soaking in hot water keeps them warm and relaxed, especially in the winter. At the same time, they enjoy bath time throughout the entire year. It is not only about cleaning their body up, but also refreshing and relaxing for them.

As I have lived in the U.S. for a while, I felt that difference on perception of bath time might be the basis which developed the different styles of a bathroom in each culture.

I can’t say which one is better or worse, since each culture has own unique customs. I can say that I love taking a bath, and I recommend taking a Japanese-style bath to those who have never tried it.

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