We introduced you to Sentō, public bath houses, in an earlier article. In Japan however, you don’t even have to leave the house for a relaxing bathing experience. Today’s article is going to be about Ofuro (お風呂), the Japanese way of taking a bath and how it differs from a western-style bathtub. Baths of this type are found in most Japanese houses, apartments and traditional inns and are usually made out of plastic or stainless steel. An Ofuro differs from a conventional Western bathtub by being deeper, typically around 0.6 meters (25 inches). In general, the tub is square-shaped rather than oval. Most of the time, there is no overflow drainage. Traditional pot-shaped Ofuro were heated by burning wood in a built-in stove. Modern Ofuro may be made of acrylic and include a recirculation system that filters and reheats the water.

The main difference between taking a bath in Western countries and Japan however is the order in which you clean yourself.

In Japan, you clean yourself before entering the bathtub. That rule does not only apply to public Sentō but the private Ofuro at home as well.
Baths in Japan are not meant to clean your body but to relax, which is why most Japanese households use the same water for all family members. To ensure the tub water stays clean, everybody washes themselves in front of the tub before entering.

Water in the tub is usually not released but reused or recycled to, for example, wash clothes the next day.

Japanese bathing culture is different but a thing you should definitely have experienced once. Enjoy a hot relaxing bath after work!


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