If you want to catch a glimpse of daily life in Japan, visit a bathhouse!
In older day Japan, many houses had no bath. So where did they bathe? Of course, they went to the bathhouse. Bathhouses were, and still are, separated by gender, but they were always large gathering places for nearly every resident. For the Japanese of that time, it was such an important place for social exchange that, “nude friendship” became a phrase in itself.
By the way, do you wear swimming suits to bathhouses in your country? In Japanese bathhouses you mustn’t wear any clothing. Go ahead and strike up a casual conversation with the old men or ladies around you and you’ll find yourself getting used to being nude. Bathhouses are ‘the’ social space for local people, so by visiting, you can learn about the local culture and customs.
After you get out, have a drink of Ramune or milk in the break room and take a seat in the massage chair. This is classic bathhouse style!
Lately, more and more bathhouses have made available, multilingual guides for bathhouse use to help introduce foreign tourists to the custom.
You might feel a little embarrassed at first, but if you want to experience the bathing culture of Japan, this is the way to do it!