I originally wrote this on my webpage in 2002 but since it has a more general theme I thought I could post it again here today
My aunt asked me about these neat bathsalts she has called "Ofuro". Well ofuro means "bath" in Japanese and these people are by far the kings of the bath world. The Japanese were cleaning themselves LONG before big white people came and reminded them why they were doing the nightly ritual (they were repulsed by the stench of the early Europeans who came here).
Here are the secrets of their scrubbing success.
First the tub is for soaking not cleaning, so all bodies can share the same bathwater because they are clean when they get in. The bathroom is all tiled (or these days fiberglass unit baths) so the whole thing can get wet. You sit on a little stool and take a shower. This is pure luxury if you have a hangover. No fuss no bother just sit and let the water come down on you! The shower is attached by a hose so you can move it around and hose yourself down. So when you're all clean, you get in the tub and just relax! That's it.
This hose feature is also fabulous for cleaning the bathroom. Tempurature permitting, you can strip down, spray and scrub the whole bathroom and hose 'er down! Then you can clean yourself up on the spot.
Oh in winter, the bath serves the double purpose of warming you up. Some people use the bath salts some don't. Some use herbs or citrus fruits to scent the tub. Now that's an experience! Imagine a few oranges or tangerines floating around you while you soak. Oh and now that I'm trying to be environmentally friendly, I can reusue my bathwater to wash clothes. I have a pump with a hose that reaches from the tub to the washer just a few feet away. We manage to save a tad on the water bill and get a warm water wash (most washers ONLY have cold water wash here).
The tub is usually big enough for lots of splashing can be great quality time for the family. Bathing is a family affair. The water is really hot so the Dad usually gets in first or the grandparents, then the kids. Mom usually goes last because when everyone is clean and relaxing in front of the TV, she can actually take her time in there.
The smallest tubs in apartments fit 2 uncomfortably while the next size fits 2 Japanese adults (two Canadian- sized adults would need some fancy maneouvering to get in and out so they would have to choose a slightly larger size). It comes up to your shoulders so your whole body is submersed without getting a kink in the neck. The kids often bathe with a parent (usually it's father's job) right up until they get to that "shy-about-their-bodies" stage.
Then there's the spas! Big public baths where you get naked with all the other girls (or guys) and soak in the volcanic waters filled with… well… volcanic minerals and things that are good for the body and alleviate all sorts of aches and pains.
Spas are as varied as homeknit sweaters back in Newfoundland! There's indoor ones, outdoor ones, all sizes all colors all temperatures, all prices…
You can see the stalls for showering in the photo on the upper left then two huge baths. One would likely be hot water while the other a whirlpool or herb bath or some fancy feature. The photo on the bottom is an open air bath. These are wonderful, but you have to keep an eye out for little holes bored in the walls from the guys side of the fence!
Baths are a source of recreation and relaxation and are HEAVEN after a chilly day of cycling or hiking. I only wish we had them in Canada. Ah ha! There's my business break… a spa owner! Would Canadians go for it?