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"Imagine, getting up from your Sunday afternoon nap, hopping into your car or onto your bike to go to the public bath only to sit in dirty butt water!"
- Ryan Roling

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A trip to the Japanese bath house
by Ryan Roling, 25, Asahikiwa, Japan
Mar 26, 2000

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Anyway, back to the tub. The one I chose had bubbles and you sat down in the water as if you were on one of those full-length recliners people lay out in the sun on. In the tub, you are reclined just a little, and relaxed just a lot. Plus, if you're a foreigner, everyone is afraid of you, so you get the bath all to yourself, while in the tub next to you 3 or 4 men crowd in! That is also worth the 360 yen you pay to get in. So here you just sit back and relax and thank God for healing the warts off your feet so you wouldn't`t stand out in the crowd. As you relax, just close your eyes and think about how weird it is that on the other side of the wall, a room full of naked women are doing the same thing. And the wall does not go all the way up to the ceiling- it's only a couple feet over your head.

If only I'd brought my climbing shoes.

So.. after you've relaxed and lived a few fantasies (come on, we all have them!), you get out and take your choice of the remaining three tubs. Remember; the first tub is not to sit in, only to douse yourself with, using your little bucket.

Or, you can opt for the sauna, which I did. I figured if nobody had the balls (pardon the pun) to join me in the tub, I was sure to have the hot-sweaty room all to myself. Once I go in there I realized why it was that nobody was in there. They had that sucker jacked up to about 150 degrees and had a steady flow of water pouring over the steam-making rocks. I took one breath and just about burnt my lungs. But I decided to stick it out for a minute. When I couldn't stand it any longer, I went back out and soaped up on my fart bucket. I wanted to jump right into the next tub, but wasn't sure if my sweat made me "unclean" and I didn't want to stand out, you know. As they say in Japan (the land of true groupism), "the nail that sticks out will get hammered down". No room for individuals here, this is after all, Japan.

After re-soaping I got into the next tub. This one had jet streams and was a bit deeper. I saw a guy with his arms and elbows resting on the side with his backside up and front side down in this tub earlier, so I decided to follow lead. As I was resting my head on my hand with my arms and elbows on the side of the tub, a butt-naked man came and set his hairy thang right there on the edge I was resting my arms on. True, he was a meter away, but I couldn't help but wonder how many guys had parked their ass right where I was resting my hands and arms. So I got out of there. From there I went and dried off, wrapped my towel around my waist and sat in the basketroom and read for a while. Remember; don`t go to the public bath if you are in a hurry. If you smoke, this appeared to be the place to feed your addiction as well.

After a couple chapters, I went back in. Having cooled off a bit, I decided to go straight for the sauna. Once again, after sitting down alone I realized why nobody was in there. Only this time I figured out the real reason. Think about it; who knows how many people go to this place a day? It's open from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.. Who wants to sit on a slimy wooden bench where a bunch of strangers collectively contribute a healthy amount of butt sweat? Not wanting to run out immediately after receiving this revelation (and cause a scene), I remained in there long enough to contribute my fair share. Then I went back out, feeling rather dirty, and soaped up again. I was about ready to go, so after I rinsed I sat back down in the sun bathing style tub and looked around a bit more. I am happy to say that I was there longer than everyone, except the one guy who scrubbed down for 15 minutes before even getting in a tub. Obviously he was an old pro.

I went back to my basket, put on the same socks and underwear I came in (I obviously am far from being a pro) and went home, loose, relaxed, warm, and clean.

It was a nice experience. I hear they even have baths with women waiting there in the basketroom to give you a massage. But there's no way this cheap-skate is gonna pay 5000 yen for an experience I would be too embarrassed to even write about!

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