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Japan, A View from the Bath

Scott Clark

Publication Year: 1994

"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

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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p. v

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p. vii

The list of people to whom I owe thanks for making this book possible is too long to include here and I would inevitably miss a few who deserve to be on it. Nevertheless, I must thank my wife, Mizue, and our children for their patience, support, and understanding while I was doing the research and writing. A special thanks is also necessary to Mieko Funakoshi, Toshiaki ...

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1. Viewing Japan from the Bath

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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. ...

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2. Bathing, History, and Cultural Change

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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 ...

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3. Bathing in the Modern Era

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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 ...

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4. Bathing Alone, Bathing Together

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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 ...

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5. Bathing Naturally

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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 bûmu). Hot spring visits have been continually increasing since World War II, but in the 1980s people flocked ...

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6. Bathing in Ideas

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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 ...


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pp. 149-152


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pp. 153-154

E-ISBN-13: 9780824863067
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824816155

Publication Year: 1994

OCLC Number: 45843060
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Japan, A View from the Bath

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Subject Headings

  • Bathing customs -- Japan.
  • Japan -- Social life and customs.
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