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By Scott Clark

"Clark's chapters at the importance of bathing in eastern mythology and the old improvement of communal bathing offer an exceptional point of view from which to view smooth practices." --Daily Yomiuri

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Additional resources for Japan, a View from the Bath

Example text

The bath, too, changed architecturally and socially— becoming a center, in urban areas, for communication, recreation, and social interaction. The influx and crowding of the urban populations created special problems. Sanitation, health, and supplies all became major concerns that captured the attention and efforts of the government. Of all the potential catastrophes, perhaps the most feared was fire—indeed, several fires had raged out of control, threatening all of Edo. As a consequence, strict fire regulations were formulated and firefighting teams organized.

Once common undergarments, both are sometimes still used, especially with traditional Japanese clothing and in hospitals. The fundoshi has been worn alone in instances where normal clothing is too cumbersome or hot. Fundoshi may be used today in festivals as the only garment men wear and in hospitals as a convenient undergarment. Early European visitors to Japan were sometimes shocked by the almost total nudity of men wearing only a fundoshi in public. During the Edo period, the wearing of clothing in the bath was abandoned entirely.

The evening bath plays an important role in the household life, especially of the women. After the menfolk have bathed, the women will take their turn. If a woman has, as she may well have, one or two younger children, they all sit in the tub together. . book Page 55 Friday, January 25, 2002 3:47 PM Bathing in the Modern Era 55 the others standing by and talking. There is a warm intimacy about these evening chats at the bath which keeps close the relationships between the women of three or four neighboring households and helps to make up for the social bonds they lack by being born in different mura [villages].

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Japan, a View from the Bath by Scott Clark


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