Monday, January 12, 2009

Ofuro 「お風呂」, Hamam and bathing ...

Yesterday (11th Jan, 2009) was Sunday, the mercury was hovering over the single digits. And by 6PM, when I usually start playing tennis, it was as low as 2゜C. Playing tennis after a month long vacation owing to year-end-year-start holidays, I was exhausted. My tennis teacher and friend, Shin, told me to "enter the ofuro". Literally, It means, "enter the bath tub" or "use a bath tub". After reaching home, I was disappointed only to find that the bathroom was used for drying clothes (thanks to the super cold weather outside). So, after dinner I went to sleep.

In the morning, with the body pain persisting, I remembered Shin's advice. I decided to "enter the ofuro", I have never tried it before. After getting up at 10:00 AM owing to a National holiday, I filled the ofuro (bath-tub), with water at 42゜C to chest level (when I was sitting in it), and then heated up the bathroom using the bathroom heater, and then entered the ofuro. I was sitting inside it for 25 minutes (5 minutes more than Shin had adviced), and felt it was very refreshing. Not only the body pain was gone, a relaxed feeling engulfed me. Thanks Shin.

After getting out of the Ofuro, I was not very happy to just waste so much (still hot) water. So, I decided to use it for taking a shower, and used a bath mug to pour it over me. I continued, continued, and continued ... but after a while I was tired (just taking the water using a mug and pouring it over me). I thought, on a normal day, I could have taken a fulfilling bath 3 -4 times using the same amount of water.

Having wasted such a lot of water, and the guilty feeling still remaining. I thought the water could have been re-used, either by someone or for something else. So I browsed the internet, And found out that normally the entire Japanese family (re-)uses the same water. I thought that was (very) good.

Indians normally take bath in the morning (from very olden days). So when I first learnt that the Japanese take bath after work in the night, I was a bit confused. Now after experiencing both the ofuro and shower, I think, shower is best suited for taking bath in the morning, because it is mostly for cleaning purpose. And an ofuro, is more for relaxing, and off course cleaning. So it is best suited before going to bed.

Now, when searching about bathing, I came across the word "Hamam". It caught my eye, because it is the name of a popular brand of soap in India. Actually the word could have had its roots in a turkish bathhouses. It was an interesting information for me and hence I just mentioned here.

Now, do you take a shower, or enter an ofuro? Which one do you think is better?

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