August 29, 2017
Before my arrival in Japan I was sent a guidebook on how to conduct yourself at a homestay. One subject, bathing, had quite specific instructions. You were not to wash in the bathtub, as the same bath water is used for the entire family. You were to wash up outside the tub and then simply soak in the tub.
Seemed simple enough except that when I was shown the bathroom there was no mention of soaking in the tub and it seemed there was no place to really shower. There was a bar with a hand-held wand on the wall, but if you used this to shower you would flood the small bathroom which was two-thirds taken up by the tub. So I opted to sit in the tub and use the hand held wand to wash, thus minimizing the mess.
This turned out to be a mistake (the bathtub must be sacred or something) and I was informed that I should shower outside the tub. I tried this approach but as I expected made a big mess with water all over the mirror and shelf with the bathing products located just below the showerhead. The next evening I was informed that it would be OK for me to wash-up in the bathtub. I guess she really didn’t like my mess.
It finally occurred to me that there must be a different way of showering, so I tried sitting on the tiny stool, about 8 inches off the ground, to wash-up, holding the wand rather than using it like a true shower. This greatly minimized the mess but what an inconvenient way to bathe, all scrunched up trying to hold a wand in one hand and wash with the other. I’ve never appreciated more the simplicity and genius of a wall mounted shower head leaving you the luxury of having your hands free to wash your hair.