When I first came to Japan, we stayed in the heart of Tokyo in a 25 sq-m apartment. Though the place is very small, I was surprised to see a bathtub in the bathroom. We later learned that this is a “must-have” in every apartment in Japan.
After a month, we moved to our permanent home in the suburb of Tokyo. It’s a 2LDK apartment (a term used in Japan which means 2 rooms with a living room, dining room and kitchen) with the usual Japanese bathroom set-up. There’s a separate room for “bath area” and the sink and washing area and the toilet. (Check the short video below that shows our bathroom in Japan.)
Our house is not big and yet the bathroom is given more space than the kitchen area. This is particularly interesting for me because in my home country (and even in Singapore where I used to live) having a bathtub is a luxury.
Not in Japan.
The Japanese Culture of お風呂 (Ohuro)
In the olden days, Japanese people didn’t have their own bath tub or shower area at home. They usually go to public baths or sento or if there’s any, the onsen. The “bath time” is spent with the community; this is where they talk and make friends. Since everyone is naked during the communal “bath time”, one’s status in life is not given importance.
[A youtube channel that I follow tackles Japanese Public Bathing in a fun way, watch here]
Nowadays, though there are still sento and onsen, most people prefer to dip into the hot water at home and thus, the presence of bath tub in every household. Most, if not all, Japanese people take a bath at night. The water is used by every member of the household- starting from the father and down to the youngest member of the family (though a friend of mine told me that this custom is not being strictly followed anymore. Nowadays, the order of taking a bath just depends on the household’s liking). The water is clean because you wash yourself first before soaking in the bathtub- which means you have to take a bath before soaking! Japanese people usually don’t use anything on the bath tub, just hot clean water for soaking. (Recently though, bath salt is getting popular).
The bathtub area includes a heater, giving you an option to reheat the water or keep the water in a certain temperature for as long as you want.
Don’t worry, if there’s a guest in the house, the guest has to take the first dip in the water. The water must be clean all the time. One needs to avoid putting shampoo or soap in the bathtub and it must be covered when not in use.
After the water has been used for soaking , it is then reuse for laundry and cleaning. Economical, isn’t it?
Adopting the Japanese Way of Bathing
Last winter, we were able to adopt to the Japanese way of taking a bath. It was specially helpful during the winter time because soaking in the 40°C water warms your body and gives relaxation too.
And though, I haven’t had the courage YET to try onsen or sento, I might do it soon… and then, I will let you know how it goes.
Note: I am participating in a blog challenge by #BloggingAbroad. We were tasked to describe our home but since showing our whole house is a bit too personal for me, I decided to discuss something unique about our house- the bathroom!
Here’s my favorite Youtube video showing their Japanese home if you want to take a peek on a typical apartment in Tokyo 🙂