Staying in Tokyo I discovered a Japanese tradition of taking a public bath called “onsen” (means hot spring in Japanese).
I see this tradition as the basis or enhancement of well known characteristics of Japanese society such as respect and politeness, as well as an invitation to a better quality of life, social sharing and equality. Let me explain you what it consists of.
1. Respect and equality
Before you take a bath you wash yourself, because the water in the bath is used by many different people and you want it to stay as clean as possible. That automatically introduces the notion of respect that you should have in relation to others and an understanding of how your actions affect others. Everybody enters onsen with the same dressing (naked or with a standard towel) that underlines equality.
2. Relaxation and quality of life
Other than washing yourself, you come to onsen to spend some time out of your normal, often busy and saturated life. The water is warm and relaxing. Relaxation helps to calm down, recharge or recover and in such way to balance your sometimes stressful life with some pleasant moment enhancing the quality of life.
3. Sharing and socialization
Often people going to onsen with their friends or family members. At this moment you are free from television, smartphone, computer, video games or anything else that takes your attention. It’s a good moment to talk about something simple and important, spend some quality time together.