Bathing in Japan is a distinct ritual symbolizing the cleansing of your body and soul. Soaking in a deep tub of hot water is a way to relax and unwind after a hectic day and to ready one’s body for a good night’s rest. More often than not, it is customary for family members to take turns soaking in the same bath water each evening, which makes washing yourself before you enter the tub an important order of things. This is made easy as Japanese bathrooms consist of a wet room where there is a shower area to wash and rinse before stepping into a pristine hot bath. In traditional, multi-generational family homes, the elders take their baths first as a sign of respect. The Japanese are culturally ecologically minded, and many bathtubs come with covers and have reheat functions so you can reheat the same bath water the following day. Many homes also have systems where used bath water from the previous evening can be pumped directly into washing machines for laundry.
Tips to recreate the ritual at home and make bath time an important part of your daily schedule…
• Take a quick hot shower to cleanse your body before drawing a bath
• Smooth on a face and /or hair mask
• Light candles and take a moment to meditate
• Turn on a soothing playlist
• Use luxurious and eco friendly towels like Tombo to complete the luxury experience
• Apply your favorite moisturizer and drink plenty of water to rehydrate your skin and body after your bath
Japan is also known for celebrating all four distinct seasons and many sub-seasons. We’ll get more into that later but here are some seasonally inspired ideas that will also make your bathing ritual a full sensory experience…
• Pre-Summer: On around May 5th, to ward off illnesses, many Japanese take iris baths. The essential oil component of the flower and stem promote circulation and warms the body from the core. It also has an analgesic effect, so it can help relieve neuralgia and back pain. Relieve your daily stress and fatigue as you take in the therapeutic aroma of irises.
• Summer: Summers in Japan can be very humid and hot. Adding some sprigs of mint to your bath water will help to cool your body on hot, restless nights.
• Fall: In the fall, some people may add ground raw ginger to their bath water to help raise their body temperature as the climate cools drastically. Ginger is affordable and a great staple to have around the house. Tea, cooking, baths...
• Winter: In the winter, one might squeeze fresh yuzu or satsuma tangerine juice into their bath water and add their rinds for a nourishing citrus soak to thwart off colds. Try this with any leftover citrus (even kitchen scraps work!): grapefruit rinds, orange rinds, or lemon rinds. Start with a small amount as citrus can give you a tingling sensation on your skin..
Spring: In the spring, people may add some cherry blossoms into the bath water for its delicious aroma to relieve stress. Try this with any blooms off your local trees or flowers.
In harmony and health,
Tae & Michele