Thursday, April 16, 2009


some pictures of japanese ofuro (or furo) via flickr and the melbourne-based japanese bath company. i really like the blue and black tiling and hexaganal tiles in some of these. and the ubiquitous candy coloured plastic tubs. the cedar-lined tub from japanese bath company is of course divine. these furo are generally baths from private japanese homes or from a small guesthouse.

i like these pictures because they show the prosaic style of most furo in japanese homes. bathing in japan is a wonderful ritual - after a long day to have the water heated in the bath, soap, wash and rinse yourself, then step into the pure steaming hot water is a joy almost spiritual in nature. for most people in japan this daily ritual takes place in the most humble of furo, whether it be a stainless steel tub in a small tiled wetroom or the unit bath (ユニットバース) of the cramped tokyo apartment. the pleasure of a hot bath is so deeply embedded in the culture, traditions and psyche of japan, i believe the pure sensation is undimmed by the tiny and often enclosed space of the daily bath. 

maybe given unlimited space and an ideal world everyone would love to have a bathroom with the key classic japanese elements of garden views, the scent of wet cedar, the cool breeze on a hot face from the open window - but the pleasure that is in my very bones now, due to my years in japan, of the simple delight in a slow soak is something that i am deeply grateful for: and it all started in my tiny stainless tub in a makeshift outhouse at the back of my tiny nagaya.

quote from japanese bath company:
'every evening without fail, more than a hundred million people lower themselves gently into the steaming waters of a japanese bath. whether it's a stone pool fed by a hot sping or a compact tub in the home, the daily ritual remains an integral part of japanese life. clothes are shed, the body is thoroughly lathered, scrubbed, rinsed, and then one enters the deep and inviting world of "ofuro"'s another world. for a bath is not just a bath and water is not just water.'


  1. I love this post. About once a week my boyfriend says "Let's put in a Japanese bath!" which is easier said than done, but always seems like a good idea. We were in Japan last year and it sometimes felt like an ofuro tour. Including the snow monkey onsen, which was another thing altogether. But I digress: the Japanese way of bathing is one of the world's most civilized things, and I wish we had ofuro here. Not to mention onsens.

  2. thankyou for your comment lindsay - the world's most civilised things - such a great way to put it. this one was definitely for the ofuro purist...maybe most people have slightly more grand aesthetic associations for the japanese-style bath! but i truly do love the humble. and the tiling is wonderful:) my returns to japan are always guided by sento/onsen/rotemburo visits - you might like this book: japan's hidden hot springs by robert neff (tuttle).(but please keep it a bit of a secret if you don't mind?! some of the places are still surprisingly very, very special and remote:)

  3. I know! It is best to keep some of these things as secret as possible. But thanks for the tip!

  4. oops, meant to sign in as me, Lindsay.