The Japanese don’t shower per se, they rinse off and then they soak. This cultural norm dates back to the days of public baths, or onsen, which still exist. Due to the fact that the typical body frame of a Japanese person is small – not just thin, but shorter, accordingly tubs in Japan are tall and deep, but square. They are meant to be sat in while meditating. A detachable shower head is perched next to the tub, but not in the tub, for rinsing off. And it’s not at full standing height. It’s somewhere between the floor and your waist. Alternatively, you can squat next to the tub and scoop water from the basin before returning fully to the tub.
The shower today has been modernized, in a way. Modern culture has adapted the shower by bypassing the tub, and simply installing a drain in the middle of the bathroom floor. You freestand during your shower without the confinement of a shower stall, surround, bathtub or shower curtain. You don’t actually shower inside the tub.
In some homes, your sink and toothbrush might be in your shower, or maybe your hot water heater. It definitely takes some getting used to.
Because this isn’t a dedicated space, water gets everywhere. No matter what efforts are made that pink slime stuff isn’t going away, and that’s a little gross. It’s fascinating to me that a culture so obsessed with cleanliness, is so very different in this matter.
In fact, it’s so awkward and outside the norm in other countries, you’ll find sign placard posted in public restrooms telling you not to shower at the sink.
How to Shower in a Japanese Tub as an American
Step 1: Stand awkwardly in the room. Stand near the tub, but not inside the tub.
Step 2: Spray water on your body and everywhere else in the whole room as there is no containment unit.
Step 3: Grasp the shower head between your legs as you lather, try and attach it to the holder that is extremely low to the ground, or let it hang spraying wildly all over the place.
Step 4: Rinse, while consequently, destroying the bathroom.
Step 5: Turn off the water and dry off.
Congratulations! You did it!
Read about more of our adventures in Japan!