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How to Take a Japanese Bath

In Japan, most homes are equipped with Japanese-style baths, but not necessarily showers. The art of getting clean in a Japanese bath (or _ofuro_) takes some getting used to for most foreigners.

Instructions

  • Step 1: Fill the bath Fill the ofuro with water heated to between 102 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit, which is much hotter than typical western bathwater.
  • Step 2: Rinse yourself Rinse yourself thoroughly in the washing area outside of the ofuro before stepping into the bath.
  • TIP: The washing area outside the bath will typically include a hose shower. If it doesn't, remove water from the bath with a plastic bucket to rinse yourself.
  • Step 3: Enter the bath Step slowly into the ofuro and make yourself comfortable. Savor the warmth of the bath.
  • Step 4: Exit the bath Exit the ofuro when you have had enough or become too hot.
  • TIP: Dry yourself with a towel after exiting the ofuro, or wash yourself with soap prior to re-entering it. Rinse the soap off so you do not introduce any soap into the ofuro.
  • Step 5: Do not drain the bath water Do not drain the water in the ofuro if others will be bathing after you. Japanese custom is that all members of a household use the same bath water.
  • FACT: In Japan, bathing in a volcanic hot spring -- an onsen -- is considered a form of relaxation -- not a way to get clean.

You Will Need

  • Japanese ofuro
  • Heated bath water
  • Washing area
  • Water for rinsing
  • Shower (optional)
  • Bucket (optional)
  • Towel (optional)
  • Soap (optional)

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