Bathing Habits in Japan and Europe

by MikeRobbers

Cultural particularities concerning bath taking of two different cultures, Japan and Europe.

What is essential to every house, home, dwelling or decent shelter is to have a bathroom - and we all know that! For every each of us, the bathroom is an element we could not live without. And for every each of us, the bathroom, despite being a key point in our lives and homes, can mean different things.

Luxury Bathroom
Luxury Bathroom

The bathroom is approached differently by every each of us. For some, it can be just a functional room that has to be kept simple, a sort of cell we lock ourselves in out of necessity; as we get out of there, we lock it in and that is it till next time. For others, though, the bathroom is a sanctuary, a temple of peace and tranquility where we can be with ourselves, closest to out true inner selves, a place we get in dusty, tired, stressed or dizzy and we get out of clean and clear, fresh and energetic, ready for a brand new day and for a brand new challenge, looking at the world in a brand new light. Whether you are part of the first or second category of bathroom owners and users, maybe there could be some few things of your interest, such as two different cultural approaches to bathing throughout the world, with a pinch of history as well.

Japanese Bathrooms

How bathrooms used to be in Japan
How bathrooms used to be in Japan

First, let's start with the Japanese culture and the regular Japanese bathrooms and bathing procedures still in use. One must know that bathrooms in Japan have their own distinctive features. One of them is the fact that the bathing room is perceived and designed to be a totally different room and space from the toilet room. Therefore, we could actually state that the Japanese keep things clear and clearly separated; this statement applies to the actual bathing and bathing rooms as well – yes, rooms, in plural, and allow me please to explain why: when it comes to the bathroom itself, we once again refer to two different spaces, as the Japanese rooms designed for cleaning oneself are actually two in number and serve different purposes. There is an entrance room always equipped with a sink, where one is supposed to get undressed, partly wash in the sink and actually get ready for taking the bath itself, which is rather similar to a ritual than to what Western societies know as bathing. 

Bathroom Entrance room
Bathroom Entrance room

The second (bath) room is designated to clean the body thoroughly. It is well equipped with two devices: a shower and a bathtub. The Japanese usually start with rinsing the body in the shower, outside the tub. After rinsing the body, they then soak in the tub filled in with some rather hot water. Next step is to get out of the hot tub and get under the shower, where the body is to be cleaned thoroughly with soap. After the soap procedure and only after clearing the body well of any trace of soap, there is a second soaking procedure coming up in the tub filled in with the same hot water. The hot water in the tub is to be kept clean, as all members of the family are supposed to be using it. It sounds rather … complicated for a European, I might add!

Japanese Bathroom made of aromatic wood
Japanese Bathroom made of aromatic wood
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The European Ancient Way of Bathing

A more familiar way of bathing might be the Ancient Greek and Roman style of clearing the body. The Ancient Greeks were the ones who actually invented what we know even today as the shower. The Romans took it from them and expanded not only the technical appliances required for the building of a shower, but also the technique and procedure. Also, what got spread around and enhanced along with building the showers was the habit of taking a shower every day. Their showers were pretty much similar with what we know nowadays. However, their showers were supposed to be common showers, available for everyone despite social status. 

Roman Baths
Roman Baths


Back in those days, showers were also spaces for enjoyment and socializing, more like the very modern urban spas and gyms of nowadays. Nevertheless, the equivalent of the exquisite Ancient Greek and Roman comfort transposed into today's context, standards and technical possibilities can be brought in each home by the innovative Mira showers range, which offers a harmonious mix of high technology available today and the refreshing simplicity of taking a shower – a habit definitely inherited from Ancient Greeks and Romans. If back then the aqueducts were to be the latest technology available that made possible the existence of showers, nowadays we have digital technology making available the programming of your shower for a much better showering experience and for saving time and energy as well. Today, you can set your shower to warm itself up, awaiting for you to just get under the digitally programmed multiple drops, giving a feeling of high relaxation in a much enhanced speed and in what one might call a time saving procedure, which is nevertheless enjoyable and fun.

Tour of the Roman Baths

Anyway, no matter what your approach might be, always enjoy your shower and bathing procedures! Have fun and relax, whether in a hot tub or under a well-designed shower!

Updated: 05/21/2013, MikeRobbers
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DerdriuMarriner on 05/18/2017

MikeRobbers, All of Japan's nuclear reactors are built along the coast because engineers calculated energy savings and resource efficiency by cutting transport and travel costs with location right near all that ocean water. In comparison, the lavishness of the bath seems somewhat contradictory. But it makes for really clean people after all that water!
Do you know what the Japanese prefer in terms of bar or liquid and in the way of ingredients?

Rose on 12/22/2013

The Japanese experience sounds rather luxurious - I imagine it takes a lot longer than our bath experience.

MikeRobbers on 06/24/2013

Yes, it sounds like a ritual and rituals sometimes make our everyday lives much more pleasurable!

Tara_W on 06/24/2013

Very interesting. I bet the Japanese really enjoy their bathing experience as well in comparison to the typical Westerner style of rushing through the bathroom routine. It must be really nice to slow down and just enjoy the ritual.

MikeRobbers on 06/09/2013

Well, we can always get inspired and try to add little details to the place we live in even if this seems impossible sometimes :)

dustytoes on 06/08/2013

My bathroom is not an enjoyable space. I live in an older house and the bathroom is small. The best feature is the window. I enjoyed hearing how the Japanese bathe - it must take up a good part of the day!

MikeRobbers on 06/07/2013

@PeggyHazelwood: Glad to know you liked it, Peggy! Even functional baths can be enjoyable :) Mike

MikeRobbers on 06/07/2013

@jptanabe: Lovely to hear about your Japanese bathing experience, Jptanabe! Thank you for the nice comment! :) Mike

PeggyHazelwood on 06/07/2013

I'd love that first bath (and the house that goes with it!) that you showed here. My bathroom is functional.

jptanabe on 06/06/2013

Those baths do look luxurious! I actually do have some experiences of Japanese baths, and I made mistakes my first time. Yes, they do expect you to clean yourself with soap and rinse it all off before getting in the bath of hot water - and then leave the water for others to use. Actually a better system than when I was a child and we all used the same bath water, it wasn't so clean for the last person!

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