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Japan, A View from the Bath

Japan, A View from the Bath

Copyright Date: 1994
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  • Book Info
    Japan, A View from the Bath
    Book Description:

    "Clark's chapters on the significance of bathing in Japanese mythology and the historical development of communal bathing provide an excellent perspective from which to view modern practices." --Daily Yomiuri

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6306-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1. Viewing Japan from the Bath
    (pp. 1-18)

    In groups or alone, in steamy public bathhouses, large outdoor hot spring pools, and small private bathrooms Japanese immerse themselves daily in hot water. These ablutions do more than cleanse their bodies: the baths are imbued with meaning and symbols of Japanese culture. To take a bath in Japan with an understanding of the event is to experience something Japanese. It is to immerse oneself in culture as well as water.

    Today, in homes across the country, the bath is taken in the evening, either before or after dinner. Young children usually bathe with one of the parents and thirty...

  5. 2. Bathing, History, and Cultural Change
    (pp. 19-41)

    The History of the Kingdom of Wei, quoted earlier, indicates that the Japanese were doing some ritual bathing by at least a.d. 297, the beginning of the Tumulus, or Kofun, period (Table 1). This bathing was for purification after encountering the pollution associated with death. The Japanese of this period built elaborate burial mounds for influential people, indicating well-developed religious and political systems. Since this is the period of the first historical record of some type of bathing in Japan, it is also a convenient point at which to discuss the history of Japanese bathing and its changes through time....

  6. 3. Bathing in the Modern Era
    (pp. 42-65)

    With the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Japan moved rapidly toward modernization, which was largely synonymous with westernization. Scholars, politicians, businessmen, and leaders throughout the country studied Western ways and planned and worked for the building of Japan. It was an exciting time, perhaps matched only by the importation of knowledge from China many centuries earlier. Political structures, social structures, architecture, clothing, education, and many other aspects of the culture were rapidly changing. Bathing too was influenced through the importation of new technologies, but the Western bath, such as it was, was largely ignored since it did not offer features important...

  7. 4. Bathing Alone, Bathing Together
    (pp. 66-87)

    The widespread desire for a bath in every domicile and its virtual fulfillment in recent decades have caused some changes in bathing. Aspects of social behavior are reflected in the matter of bathing with others versus bathing alone, and changes in bathing practices further reinforce cultural changes in society at large. The social changes observable in bathing behavior are primarily in the interaction of people in groups or communities. In significant ways, Japanese people have changed the relationship of the individual to the community. These changes are celebrated by some; they are a cause of concern for others. The bath...

  8. 5. Bathing Naturally
    (pp. 88-116)

    The most visible and, perhaps, most publicly valued bathing in Japan today is done at one of the numerous hot spring resorts where one can bathe in a natural setting. During the period of this research Japan was in the midst of a “hot spring boom” (onsen būmu). Hot spring visits have been continually increasing since World War II, but in the 1980s people flocked to hot springs in unprecedented numbers. The Japan Spa Association reported nearly five million visitors at Japan’s largest hot spring resort in 1983 (Yomiuri Evening Newspaper, 9 September 1986). Some Japanese regard the boom as...

  9. 6. Bathing in Ideas
    (pp. 117-148)

    The descriptions of Japanese baths through history reveal that the bath is much more than a simple act of cleansing; it is an act immersed in symbols, in ideas. These symbols are the primary component of what constitutes the Japanese bath. As described at the beginning of this work, the ideological component of bathing caused me to take a very different sort of bath than the Japanese, even though I was in the same tub. The material components of the Japanese bath are important not so much for their intrinsic value as for the symbolism connected to them. When a...

    (pp. 149-152)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 153-154)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 155-156)