Why are there mixed toilets in Japan

How do the Japanese bathe?

Just a hot shower would be unthinkable for a Japanese. In Japan you bathe. It's as much a part of it as rice for dinner. A day without a bath is completely unthinkable for a Japanese.
For the Japanese, cleaning is not just about personal hygiene, it is something that shapes the entire Japanese culture. That's why you take off your street shoes when you go into a Japanese house. There is an extra ledge so that you cannot go further into the house with shoes on. Because everything that is outside is unclean. The same goes for the bathroom as well. That's why you have to change your shoes if you want to go to the toilet in Japan. However, there are also people who are no longer so meticulous and who go to the quiet place with their normal slippers.

The bathroom of the normal car consumer
Since toilets are unsanitary for the Japanese, most households have them in a separate room. When you get into the bathroom, you first find yourself in a room with a sink. In this room there is usually a trolley in which the laundry is deposited. Often a door leads to the actual toilet. Traditional toilets are just a porcelain basin sunk into the floor that you have to crouch over to do your business. But you will hardly find these in a modern Japanese household, western toilets have found their way here. If a family is a little better off, you can operate this toilet at the push of a button and get your bum washed and blow-dried from the porcelain bowl.

Susanne is sitting in the tub - Shiburo is sitting in the Ofuro
Another room in the bathroom is specially designed for the shower and bathtub. The room is the Ofuro and is entered barefoot, the sink is embedded in the floor. There is no shower cubicle as we know it from Europe. Usually you have a faucet, a bar of soap and a bowl. Some people just wash themselves with the bowl, others shower off. The main thing is that they are clean when you remove the cover from the bathtub and step into the water, which can be up to 50 degrees Celsius. The water is kept warm by this heat-retaining lid and stays in the tub for a few days. The whole family bathes in the same water, so thorough body cleaning is essential before use. In Japan, bathing is a social act. If the bathtub at home is not big enough for everyone, bathing is done in hierarchical order: the head of the family first, then the men, according to age, and then the women in the same way. If you are visiting a Japanese house, you will be asked to go to the bathroom as well. It may seem very hot to a Westerner, but such a bath is wonderfully refreshing and relaxing. If you can, you should definitely try it out.

Nudism in Japan too?
Bathing is a social act. That is why the Japanese like to go to public baths. A distinction is made between Sentō, or bathhouse, and hot springs that are in the fresh air.

If you visit a bathhouse, you first put things down. Most of the time there is a gender segregation, but there are also mixed bathhouses. The women always have the smaller basin, but first of all they have to clean themselves thoroughly in a row of showers and bowls, just like at home. Only then are they allowed to step into the hot pool. This oversized bathtub is mostly connected to the one in the men's area and only separated by a wall, which is often designed like a small mountain range. So the screams of pain from the other side can be easily heard when the water is a little too hot. Of course you bathe naked, swimwear is not allowed. So don't be shy.

Hot springs are called onsen. Japan is located in a very volcanically active region. Hence there are many hot springs and more than 2000 of them are used as bathing facilities. Most of the pools are in the great outdoors. These are called Rotenburo and they have different temperatures. Since they are really very hot, you can swim in them even if there is snow outside. It is best to keep a cool head.

Even if the water is really very hot, it is quite unproblematic to bathe in it if you skim yourself off with it beforehand. It's very relaxing and highly recommended. No wonder that many foreigners who have lived in Japan for a few years can hardly do without a daily hot bath themselves.

Well then, cheers meal! The poor water bill ... You'd have to think about buying a bathtub that can be covered!
Author: Anne Ballhaus
Editor: Diana Erbe
Graphic designer: Nathalie Schöps / unknown
Date d. Article: 02.01.2011
Image copyright: Wikipedia