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  • -Good -Good

  • I remember the first time I heard about Japanese onsen

  • Alright, what's the onsen?

  • Okay, onsen means hot spring and people bathing in one look like this.

  • But there's also sento which is a public bathing facility people bathing in one look like this

  • Yeah, unless you know where the water is coming from they can look exactly the same

  • the main difference is that onsen use natural spring water whereas cento use heated tap water

  • But as always

  • Osaka sometimes does it different and onsen can be cento, so read the fine print if you really want to know more

  • But back to my story about how I first heard about onsen.

  • In my youth when I used to work summers as a painter

  • My coworker told me about his trip to Japan with his Japanese girlfriend

  • I was quite surprised to hear they visited a mixed bathing facility. Where yes they were both naked

  • I know certain Europeans, just love to flaunt their nudity

  • But as a Canadian, this felt all sorts of wrong, just so you don't get the wrong idea

  • Nowadays most Japanese public bathing is done with the same gender

  • But still I thought how could bathing naked with a bunch of other dudes be relaxing?

  • Why do Japanese love bathing?

  • Well, let me tell you, have you ever read Shogun?

  • if you have or if you've seen the TV miniseries you totally know

  • Oh no, no, I don't

  • Like hell! A bath will make you foul sick

  • You see, back in the time period this is taking place.

  • The 1600s, the English used to think bathing might foul your health with bad air

  • This theory of bad air was called miasma.

  • And was prevalent during the times of cholera and dundundun...

  • Black death

  • if it were me I believed in the bad air theory too after learning that half my ancestors died during the plague

  • But having been mostly closed off to the world at this time.

  • The average Japanese villager would have thought this theory plain crazy

  • Get out of my way

  • yes...yes

  • Sometimes people don't know what's best for them and need to be shown the way despite their kicking and screaming,

  • But when it's right, It's right

  • But I've gotten ahead of myself

  • Bathing in Japan started off so long ago

  • We're talking about over a thousand years

  • that historians don't have conclusive reasons for how it got started

  • A simple explanation can be that since Japan is a volcanic island and is chock full of natural Hot Springs

  • Was bound to happen that people would want to get naked and jump in

  • Most history texts I've read posit the start of onsen culture in Japan

  • was associated with Buddhist temples and religious bathings

  • Bathing at a temple was first a thing only for priests

  • But then it opened up to the sick who could benefit from the healing powers of the natural springs

  • Which were full of acids and minerals.

  • Then the rich heard about this and thought:

  • Hey, I'm going to build one just for me because why share?

  • by the 1600s also known as the beginning of the edo period

  • Two types of commercial bathing were popular in Japan.

  • In the East, think Tokyo

  • which is formally called Edo, hence the name of the era.

  • there were bath houses with pools of water called Yuya

  • Which literally means hot water shop.

  • In the West, think Osaka.

  • Bathing was more about the steam and called mushi Bulo,

  • which literally means steam baths

  • Is this usual?

  • I mean...

  • For you to be...to be...

  • -To be sharing a bath? -emm

  • In 1869, at the start of the Meiji period.

  • Laws were put in place to separate bathing by gender

  • In Japan,

  • We have no shame of our body

  • Everything is natural and normal

  • And because there is so many of us

  • That is also necessary

  • Apparently, the American commander Commodore Perry thought that doing so wasn't moral,

  • and then the Japanese government was like...

  • oh no! Let's stop this,

  • then some japanese proprietors says, you want me to build a whole new bath house just to separate the people?

  • How about I put this small board here to divide it?

  • That didn't all stop the peeping Tanaka's

  • Other operators came up with a simple idea of

  • only allowing in certain genders at spacific times of the day

  • while others decided to choose sides and specialize in a single gender

  • Despite the workarounds of bathhouses

  • Rules weren't always followed.

  • This must be a huge shock for those who know the propensity of the Japanese to follow rules

  • Someday you will understand

  • I'm sure

  • Someday you'll understand

  • But to tell the truth, varying laws have attempted to curtail kon-yoku, which is mixed bathing

  • Since way before the Meiji period and all the way up until after World War two

  • The latest laws on the books prohibit mixed gender bathing.

  • Though, there's an exception for young kids

  • Interestingly

  • Mixed gender bathing is still allowed today

  • as places that allowed it before the laws were put into place or grandfathered in

  • By the time we hit the 1970s we reach peak bathhouses

  • Population was booming and the economy as well

  • But as Japan recovered and became an economic superpower

  • bathtubs became the standard in new homes and bath houses weren't as needed on a regular basis

  • So now that there's virtually no immediate need to bathe outside the home.

  • Why is communal bathing still a very popular activity in Japan?

  • If you've ever seen japanese dramas, animes or TV shows, you've probably witnessed a group bathing scene

  • Bathing to relax is probably the easiest way to explain why the Japanese love going to public baths

  • unlike previous iterations of bath houses

  • Modern ones have become increasingly like spas

  • Take the super sento as an example

  • Which roughly translates into super public bathhouse.

  • Beyond the bathing and steam room facilities,

  • you can get massages, body scrubs, relaxation rooms and food

  • Then there's theme park onsen

  • Oedo onsen, offers up an old-school summer festival like atmosphere

  • of a bygone Tokyo once Edo

  • kids can play games

  • adults drink in the bar

  • and couples stroll in the outdoor foot baths

  • and everyone can do it wearing a yukata

  • And then, there's the more classic ryokan experience, ryokan meaning traditional japanese inn

  • There you often stay overnight in a tatami room

  • and some even bring your meals to the room for the ultimate in room service

  • Beyond the hot springs they can support recreational facilities like ping pong, karaoke and swimming

  • In Japan clean is beautiful

  • Really, the ki lii kanji means clean, beautiful, pretty, and pure all at once

  • This is also why toilets, for the most part are separated from bathing areas

  • It's also why you take off your shoes before entering a home, and it's also why you'd wash yourself before entering the bath

  • I will wash my body and go there

  • -How does it feel, Shin-chan? -Good

  • Good

  • Because clean is beautiful

  • Something I didn't quite believe at first was the healing powers of the hot springs

  • Japan has had many scientists studying their properties over the years

  • Depending on which mix of acid or minerals you go with,

  • it can treat constipation

  • menstrual pain, diabetes, aching muscles, rheumatism and other funny elements

  • While I haven't used onsen to specifically cure anything

  • I can vouch for the fact that some do give you ultra-smooth skin, if only it wasn't a temporary change

  • Bathing to be the same

  • in Japanese there's a term called "Hidaka Natsuki I", or: "Naked Association"

  • It's the feeling that naked in an onsen all are equal

  • Whether you're a high-flying CEO or pilot or a lowly youtuber.

  • Without our uniforms, there's no way to tell who's who

  • This is closely related to a pseudo English Japanese word "skinship"

  • It describes intimacy between mother and child

  • Now it has a broader meaning of bonding through physical contact

  • Whether it be hugging or bathing with children

  • When my children were born,

  • the hospital in Canada encouraged me to go skin-to-skin with my babies

  • so I think this skinship thing is not an entirely foreign concept to the West

  • Although I think we started practicing it a bit... just a little bit sooner than the Japanese

  • All things aside

  • Cost maybe another simple answer for why Japanese love to bathe so much

  • When you think about going to therapeutic baths in Canada.

  • If you can find one you can easily spend over $50

  • There's a public pool. Type of hot springs,

  • but it's not at all close to the cento or onsen experience you can get in Japan

  • I don't think my young self would have ever thought this,

  • but wearing a bathing suit in the hot spring? gross!

  • Hey, if you've ever tried going naked in a hot spring in Japan

  • and then prefer the hot springs in Canada with a bathing suit

  • Please let me know, I'd be surprised but curious to know why

  • In Japan you can usually get into a public bath for under ten dollars

  • Although if it's a fancy or themed one, the price could be double or triple

  • Take the hot spring town we visited. We paid sixteen hundred yen for a pass to see three of the top ones there

  • Food is also generally not spa priced

  • But you can get a decent meal for under $10

  • so really, you can get dinner and a hot spring at your local "Super Cento" for under $20

  • Perhaps the real reason Japanese love bathing is the natural animal instinct to do so

  • A special thanks goes out to all those that made this video possible

  • Thank you so very much.

  • Do you like getting naked and bathing together where you're from?

  • Oh, and one last thing

  • Did you know that there's a Shinto practice, Shintoism is japan's other major religion by the way, called "Misogi"?

  • It's ritual purification by water, very cold water

  • Some have put forth that this is the real start of bathing in Japan

-Good -Good

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B1 US bathing onsen japanese bath naked hot spring

Japanese Public Bathing Explained

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