January 31, 2003

銭湯 Sento 2

I had to be discreet and ended up hanging out in the changing room for quite a while until I got a moment to sneak up and take these. They don't reveal much anyway, but still. Didn't want to freak out anyone.

What I enjoy most is seeing the social interaction. I sat next to 2 women who were friendly neighbors:
"So how is your health? It's been cold lately so we have to be careful, don't we?"
"Yes, indeed. How is your husband? Didn't he have a cold?"
Then later, I saw them washing each other's backs. And I could tell from their conversations that these ladies were just neighbors...not necessarily close friends. But meeting each other and discussing daily events at the public bath is, well, just normal.

My parents are bath freaks. Seriously, they go around exploring various Tokyo neighborhoods and take their bath stuff so if they find an interesting Sento, they take a bath! During random conversations, you may hear them say, "oh yeah, the sento in Takadanobaba has a good outdoor bath, but the sauna wasn't up to par..." Anyway, I remember going to their local bath once, and as I was minding my own business soaking in hot water, a lady came up to me, squinting at my face (since she apparently usually wears glasses) and said, "are you Kennedy's daughter?" She was 'bath buddies' with my mom (meaning they only meet at the bath) and wanted to introduce herself.

Oh yeah. My bath must have problems with 外人 (gaijin, 'foreigners') because I found a poster about how to properly take a bath. For example, don't wash your clothes (!) The poster's title is Enjoy Bath With Manners.

The changing room has a huge mirror so I took advantage to take a picture of post-bath me and my faithful phone.

Posted by Mie at January 31, 2003 09:50 AM

I like what you were saying about the neighbors at the bathhouse. I think these sort of things are natural, and somehow it is very endearing to hear people talk like this. Also, me being a gaijin myself, it would be a long time before I got up the courage to strip bare infront of other wemon. I have a problem with this even in my home country! Its amazing the pictures you can take on your camera, and if stupid American phones would figure it out, we could all do this. Anyways, I shall continue with my reading. Supposedly, tell your parents in Matsuyama there is the oldest bathhouse, although I do not know what it is called. Have they been there?

Posted by: cappie at February 3, 2003 05:16 AM

Hi Cappie,
Nope I haven't been to Matsuyama but I'll ask my folks about it. The whole bath/body conscious thing is interesting. Very cultural and is something hard for adults to change. I agree though...it just seems more natural to be open about it. I think it's important for children to see 'older' bodies so we all know changes are a natural process and nothing to be afraid of. Just my thoughts though...

Thanks for reading!

Posted by: Mie at February 3, 2003 07:01 PM
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