Do you know these?


Do you know the things in the photo?

You could answer the question, like this: "Yeah, uhm..., a bucket and a bowl!" Your answer isn't wrong, but.., ah, not sufficient at all.

The photo above shows a Japanese style open-air bath called "Roten Buro (露天風呂)" annexed to an old-fashioned style hotel "Ryokan (旅館)," with a bucket and a bowl being placed at the edge of a huge bathtub. These are both called in Japanese "Furo Oke (風呂桶)" which literally means "bathing bucket." However, the Furo Oke isn't just a bathing tool. Rather, it is one of the critical things that create the Japanese cultural world contrasted to the western cultural world.

Most Ryokan has two types of baths: a huge interior bath "Dai Yokujou (大浴場)" and an exterior bath Roten Buro which may be smaller in size. Both of these baths are designed to be shared by lots of guests concurrently, that is, not in time-sharing. Furthermore, high-class Ryokans have guest rooms each provided with an exclusive Roten Buro to be used by the guests of that room only. The photo below shows an example.


Now, you are staying in a Ryokan. If you are going to use a bath whichever it is an interior Dai Yokujo or exterior Roten Buro, you should be very cautious because you are just to enter the Japanese cultural world which is typically invisible to you.

There is a rule: before you first get into the bathtub, you must cleanse your body, particularly, your "privates" by putting some hot water in the bathtub onto your body using the Furo Oke several times. Clearly, this cleansing rule is to keep the hot spring water in the bathtub clean as much as possible, as the bath is shared by lots of guests. However, this is not the end of the story.

Even if you stay alone in an expensive room of a high-class Ryokan having an exclusive Roten Buro as shown in the photo above, the same rule applies! Yes, you have to cleans your body and "privates" before you first get into the bathtub of the Roten Buro, despite anyone else won't use it! Do you know why?

The deepest purpose of cleansing one's body lightly before the one first gets into the bathtub, in Japan, is to make it sure that the one can fully enjoy excellent relaxation by putting himself/herself in a perfectly clean environment, that is, purely clean hot water in the bathtub. For the same reason, Japanese people do not wash their hair and body inside the bathtub. They use shampoo and soap outside the bathtub. After completely cleansing the body and hair, Japanese people get into the "clean" hot water in the bathtub again to enjoy the perfect relaxation once more.

Thus, the cleansing rule is quite logical and reasonable. You can find similar features probably based on the same philosophy, in the Japanese people's lifestyle. An example is that Japanese people unexceptionally take off their shoes when they enter their house. Moreover, they keep their shoes in the shoes box "Geta Bako (下駄箱)" provided at the entrance, and never bring shoes into the closet of their private rooms.

If you would like to learn more about the depths of the Japanese culture, subscribe our free journal "Japonism Victoria" or visit our website "" which will start soon.



露天風呂の風呂桶を写した一枚の写真から日本文化の深層を探るヒントが得られるのも,私たちが日本文化の外で暮らしているからかもしれません。こういった話に興味を持たれる方はぜひ,Japonism Victoriaをご購読ください(購読無料)。また,電子メディア版のjapoism.mediaも間もなくスタートしますので,そちらもぜひご覧ください。

Japonism Victoria


Japonism Victoria is a free journal published by a non-profit community-based organization, JCCO Victoria, and distributed in Greater Victoria and Greater Vancouver areas as well as other Nikkei communities in Canada. Furthermore, electronic versions are distributed in various cities of Japan, for those who are interested in Canada or in studying or living abroad.

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Japonism Victoria is not an ordinary newsletter of an organization, carrying some "news" related to the activities of that organization. Rather, Japonism Victoria is a research-based journal for digging deep into cultural or ethnical matters, for example, to extend knowledge throughout the community.

To this end, major articles are bilingual and edited in a specific aspect of reconstructing the Japanese culture and the identity as Japanese or a descendant thereof, which must be very attractive also to English-speaking Canadians who are interested in the Japanese culture.

Japonism Victoria is available in printed version and PDF version. For subscription of the PDF version, please send an email, with your name and place (city and province), to us at:

Again, it's free!

Japonism Victoriaは非営利のコミュニティ組織であるJCCO Victoriaが発行する無料ジャーナルで,ビクトリアおよびバンクーバーを中心とするカナダ西海岸ならびにカナダ各地の日系コミュニティに配布されています。また,電子版は日本にも配信され,海外移住や海外留学に関心を持たれる方々などにお読みいただいています。

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Japonism Victoriaは会の活動記録等を掲載する一般的な会報・情報掲載紙ではなく,文化問題,民族問題など問題を深く掘り下げて,広くコミュニティ全体で知識を共有するための探求型ジャーナルです。


Japonism Victoriaには印刷版とPDF電子版があり,いずれも無料です。電子版の購読を希望される方は,お住まいの州と市(日本の方は都道府県名)を明記の上,下記アドレスまでメイルにてお申し込みください。

Kumamoto Earthquake 熊本地震

Japan Red Cross Society: Kumamoto Earthquake Relief Donation


Kumamoto Earthquake on April 14, 2016 in southern part of Japan and huge earthquakes uninterruptedly striking neighbouring areas have caused immense damages there. Japan Red Cross Society asks relief donation to the quake survivors.
All of your contributions will be distributed to the survivors through distribution committees set up in the disaster areas. Your support is extremely helpful! Visit the following JRC website, written in Japanese.

日本赤十字 熊本地震災害義援金



East Japan Mega Earthquake

Japan Red Cross Society: East Japan Mega Earthquake Relief Donation


"Being Forgotten" is the worst for survivors

The disaster of the East Japan Mega-Earthquake in March 2011 hasn't been resolved yet. Around 180,000 people are still forced to live as evacuees. Moreover, this number doesn't include those who have given up to rebuild their lives in hometowns and moved to other towns, or those who are living at other places without registering the place at the city office. Even if one fortunately gets a new home and goes out of the shelter, the life at the new place wouldn't be so easy particularly for the elderly.
The need of support for the quake survivors is still expanding. So, most importantly, we should provide continued support for them so as not to strengthen their feeling of isolation and hopelessness.
Donations to the quake survivors can be made to the Japanese Red Cross Society online. Please visit the following website of the Japan Red Cross Society, which is written in English.

日本赤十字 東日本大震災義援金




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