Bathhouse Etiquette

Do you know the correct etiquette for bathing Japanese style? During a trip to Naoshima last summer, I picked up this pretty little pamphlet that describes the process.

They did a great job of translating the leaflet into English for the tourists, so I’ll leave this post to do the talking by itself. You can compare the Japanese version to the English for accurate, natural translations, and hopefully learn a thing or two in the process! It’s interesting to note that the English version of the pamphlet has several additions and varies in places. This is another mark of a good translation though – writing for the particular needs of the audience!

This particular bathhouse, named ‘I Love Yu’ (yu being the reading for 湯 – hot water, or ‘bath’ in Japanese) is rather special because it features lots of modern art. Naoshima is an island in the Seto Inland Sea renowned for its quirky art exhibits dotted all around the island and numerous museums. It’s well worth a visit if you have the chance, and be sure to visit this bathhouse near the port. It looks like a ramshackle old haikyo decorated with lots of kitsch stuff from the outside, but don’t let that fool you!

Some vocabulary to help you out:

番台 (ばんだい) – watcher’s stand/attendant’s booth
脱衣室 (だついしつ) – dressing room (literally – ‘take off, garment, room’)
湯船 (ゆぶね) – bathtub/bath (the main tub)
お湯につかる – to soak in the bath (浸かる)

In the last point, number 5, they say ‘we swap the men’s and women’s bathrooms every now and then’. This is not usual, but because this particular bathhouse has art on show inside the bath, I guess swapping the rooms enables frequent guests to experience both sides of the place!


9 Responses to Gakuu. Studying with Real Japanese

  1. Sabrina September 29, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    This is pretty cool! Right now I’m studying on Textfugu which is great! I belive Gakuu can be really helpul too. What I like most is that its for pre-intermediate to advanced level students. So you can’t say its the same thing over and over again… students can actually improve their knowledge here. Thank you very much for creating this site. Have a nice day :)

    • Gakuranman September 30, 2010 at 1:09 am #

      Hi Sabrina! Thank you for your comment :).

      That’s definitely our aim. I love Textfugu for beginners and really getting students a solid grounding in the language, but afterwards (and even while) studying the basics, it can really help to encounter raw Japanese material. You don’t have to understand everything at first, but feeling challenged and picking up little bits here and there that are extra to your learning the basics helps expand your mind. Let me know if you have any more questions! More demonstration material will be up soon! We are currently having a special launch sale price for early adopters, so check out the pricing page if interested :).

      • Sabrina September 30, 2010 at 5:14 pm #

        Thanks for your reply. :) Unfortunately I’m even still miles away from the intermediate level. But I’ll definetly return to Gakuu when I get to this point. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the extra demonstration material. :) Keep up the good work.

        • Gakuranman October 1, 2010 at 12:21 am #

          Sure thing :). Let me know if you have any other questions or suggestions for things you’d like to see on Gakuu!

  2. missingno15 October 1, 2010 at 7:31 pm #

    When I looked at this, I first thought to myself, “aw hell no, gakuranman is doing the same thing as koichi…even the website layout is similar”. But then I realized “it’s aimed at pre-intermediate to advanced level students” which is perfect for my situation right now because I now really want to excel way past beginner. So basically, Gakuu really complements Textfugu. Can’t wait for more lessons to see how this is gonna be like so I can decide if its worth getting.

    • Gakuranman October 1, 2010 at 7:37 pm #

      Hey there! Thanks for dropping by :). No way – Koichi and I are buds. I’ve always loved teaching the more advanced stuff so it worked out perfectly. I’ll be adding more stuff in the coming days, so please stay tuned!

      • Lee Aloy October 23, 2016 at 5:20 am #


        I am sorry to ask this silly question. Are you Japanese?
        am hoping to find a Japanese friends here please shot me an email:

  3. DumbOtaku (percent20) October 3, 2010 at 12:58 am #

    This is really cool. I am glad to see more online content going beyond just teaching hirigana and katakana. That is what I try to do on my blog, but with to little consistency. Glad to see an expert do it, btw already a signed-up paid member now. :)

    • Gakuranman October 3, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

      Glad to have you man! Look forward to hearing any suggestions you have for the site and future lessons :)

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