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Bathing[ edit ] A private furo in a ryokan Bathing is an important part of the daily routine in Japan, where bath tubs are for relaxing, not cleaning the body. Therefore the body must be cleaned and scrubbed before entering the bathtub or ofuro.
This is done in the same room as the tub, while seated on a small stool and using a hand-held shower. Soap, a wash cloth, and shampoo are provided; and the bather is expected to wash and rinse thoroughly twice before stepping into the ofuro.
It is very important that no soap residue be transferred to the ofuro because the heated water is not drained after each person's use, and several hours and the expense of a considerable amount of water are required to heat fresh water.
Any hair or debris is scooped from the water after the bath, and a lid is placed over the tub to maintain the water temperature and prevent evaporation.
Water heaters also continue to maintain the temperature. Ryokan baths have a small anteroom for undressing before entering the bathing room. Usually there is a basket in which to place used towels and wash cloths. In a home or small inn, a traditional tub is square and deep enough that the water covers the bather's shoulders, but its length and width are small so the bather sits with the knees drawn up.
Because the ofuro is meant for a relaxing private soak, yet serves numerous people, the bather needs to be careful not to indulge too long.
Many ryokan close the ofuro for several hours every day so the room can be cleaned and aired, and some require guests to sign up for specific soak times. In homes with small tubs, family members bathe one by one in order of seniority, traditionally starting with the oldest male or the oldest person in the household.
If there are guests in the home, they will be given priority. In homes with larger tubs, it is not uncommon for family members to bathe together.
Typically one or both parents will bathe with babies and toddlers, and even as children grow older they may still bathe with one of their parents.
Some homes transfer the hot bath water to a clothes-washing machine. A regular bathhouse will have tap water heated in a boiler. In all but the most rural areas, public baths are segregated by gender. Customers bathe nude, many using a small washcloth to cover their genitals.
The same soaping, scrubbing, rinsing rules apply as in homes and ryokan. These baths use water heated by geothermal springs and often are incorporated into resort-like destinations in the countryside where people stay for a day or more. They may have a variety of soaking pools and tubs, some indoors and some outdoors, some communal and some private.
Larger onsen will have separate pools for men and women, and visitors normally bathe nude. Bowing is extremely important: Basic bows are performed by bending from the waist with the back and neck straight, hands at the sides males or clasped at the lap femalesand eyes looking down.
The body should be composed but not rigid. Generally, the longer and deeper the bow, the stronger the emotion and respect expressed.
The three main types of bows are informal, formal, and very formal. Informal bows are made at about a fifteen-degree angle or just tilt over one's head to the front, and more formal bows at about thirty degrees. Very formal bows are deeper. The etiquette surrounding bowing, including the length, depth, and appropriate response, is exceedingly complex.The full guide has two sections.
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