Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ofuro time...

The apartment's hot-water boiler is broken, so I headed down to the local Sentō for a bath. Sentō are 'traditional' (well, I suppose this one is, although a lot are modernising to attract the increasing number of Japanese with baths in their homes) bathhouses where one essentially strips naked (sexes are segregated in virtually every Sentō these days), proceeds to thoroughly washing oneself in a designated area (a large row of taps and shower-heads; stools and buckets are provided) before heading for the baths themselves – having rinsed several times. The bath-water is hot enough to peel the skin off a rhino, and I don't fully understand how old Japanese men manage to stay in them for over twenty minutes, whereas I feel quite cooked after three or four. This may sound uncomfortable, but after two or three sessions of dipping into the boiling water, it's amazing how muscular tension seems to fade away. Afterwards, you can cool off in the lounge, where an archaic (but effective!) massage chair finishes the job off with a three-minute back-rub for a mere ¥20 (less than €0.15, or 10 pence). Entry to these fine establishments costs little more than ¥500 (5 bucks), so all in all, it's a pretty good deal. Feeling very relaxed...

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