The Amayori Sento — Japanese Culture


A   J O U R N A L   O F   B E A U T Y

A Peek Inside a Japanese Bathhouse

Walk into any bathhouse in Japan, and you are sure to find the same basic things, whether you are bathing at a Tokyo sento or a remote rural onsen.  Men’s and women’s baths are almost always separated. Each side is separated by a door or a noren curtain. When you first walk in, there are lockers or baskets so that you may stow your personal belongings. Since bathing is always done in the nude, you will also need to store your clothing or yukata (a cotton kimono often worn around Japan’s hot spring towns). This storage area is usually separate from the washing area. Next is the washing area. In Japan, washing is always done before soaking and is considered...

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Ashiyu: Effortless Relaxation from Japan's Hot Spring Towns

Ashiyu are foot baths that are found in some of Japan’s hot spring town. They are beloved for their lighthearted atmosphere, as they are an easy way to enjoy Japan’s mineral-rich waters with little effort. My last trip to Japan was in mid-spring. There was still a chill in the air, especially in the more remote areas that I ventured to. Toward the end of the trip, I began to feel under the weather. Though I wanted to get into the many nearby onsen (hot spring baths), I didn’t have the energy to undress and dress again. Ashiyu became a relaxing, healing alternative. The mental and physical benefits are many and mimic those of a full-body bath. The mental benefits...

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A Healing Lesson from the Cherry Blossoms

As you are reading this journal post, I will be en route to Japan. One of the highlights of this trip is that I will arrive right in the middle of the beautiful sakura season. Cherry blossoms are a reminder of life’s fleeting beauty or mono no aware - the transience of life. I have also heard mono no aware described as capturing the essence of a long sigh. This concept of impermanence is not one we often think about in the West, where we strive for constant perfection and happiness. However, in Japan, this sentiment has been a strong part of the culture for quite a while. Cherry blossoms bloom quickly, almost as if they are coming out of nowhere. They...

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Japanese Bathing Wisdom for the Entire Family

In a traditional Japanese home, the bathwater is shared among family members. This practice perhaps comes from the Japanese tradition of the sento (public bathhouses) or bathing in public hot springs. Though unfamiliar to Westerners, the practice really does make perfect sense. Keep in mind that a shower precedes a Japanese-style bath One never enters the bath dirty regardless of whether at a public bath or home. Sharing bathwater is not only good for the environment, but also makes life easier for everyone involved. Imagine how well your family would sleep if everyone took a bath before bed. There is also something comforting about knowing that everyone has gone to bed calm and soothed. Interestingly, there is a bathing hierarchy...

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Creating Ryokan-Style Comfort In Your Home

One of my greatest hopes with Amayori is that it will pique your interest and inspire travel to Japan. Should you ever make the journey, I highly suggest spending at least part of your trip at a ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn). The hospitality at these establishments is unlike anything else. From the second you arrive, it’s as if your every desire is anticipated and cared for before it even crosses your mind. Below are a few of the subtle, small touches that all contribute to a harmonious stay. I love to incorporate these into my home, especially during the holiday season. Seasonal Flowers and/or Art: Most ryokan rooms, and Japanese homes for that matter, have a special outlet called...

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