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Mixed Bathing in Japan 1 – 混浴

Ahh Konyoku, the delicate topic of mixed bathing. While not widespread around Japan, it’s certainly not uncommon to find onsen that allow both men and women to bathe together, and increasingly it would seem, young couples are enjoying breaks together to share a private bath at a relaxing ryokan.

The adverts in this two part post are from Jalan – a useful site for booking hotels and ryokan in Japan. Quite often over the past few months, I’ve seen banners and square adverts decorated with a cute semi-clad girl wrapped tightly in a towel enjoying an onsen bath. They are an excellent example of an eye-catching and slightly risque type of marketing aimed at younger couples. Even more curious is that there are specific versions of the advert reaching out to the female audience, who typically might be thought to be too shy to invite their boyfriend to go to an onsen together. Let’s take a look.

混浴、私が誘っちゃいました♡

こんよく、わたしが さそっちゃいました♡

I invited him to the onsen ♡

The word 混浴 is made up of two kanji and quite literally means exactly what the English translation says – ‘mixed’ and ‘bathe’. The kanji for 混 also carries a feeling of being muddled up, or packed in (especially on a train): 混雑 (こんざつ). Interesting here is the word 誘う (to invite) used in its casual form. Usually we would say 誘ってしまう – to invite (with a hint of something one feels inclined to restrain from doing). しまう becomes ちゃう in casual Japanese and with the surrounding hearts, 誘っちゃう brings us a sense of a giggling girl who has done something slightly naughty. Note that 〜てしまう (and 〜っちゃう) can also be used to represent actions done by mistake or actions done to their full extent (complete actions) – there are a wide variety of uses.

Also at work here is the が in 私が. The sentence could also be written simple as 混浴、誘っちゃいました to mean ‘(I) invite (him) bathing’. This would be perfectly natural in Japanese where subjects are often omitted from sentences, but here the 私が has intentionally been added. Why? For emphasis!

Who invited him to the onsen? Why, *I* did of course~!


二人っきりでラブラブ、アツアツ

ふたりっきりで ラブラブ、アツアツ

Just the two of us, passionate and in love.

An immensely useful term here – 二人っきり – is used to signify when two people are alone together. You could also say 一人っきり to mean alone by oneself, but it isn’t used quite as much. Note, too, that きり here gives a positive or neutral meaning in most cases. If you wanted to say ‘all alone by oneself’ with a negative nuance you would use ぼっち, as in 独ぼっち (ひとりぼっち) – all by one’s lonesome.


混浴した〜い、大特集!

こんよく したい、だいとくしゅう!

I want to go bathing together – Special Edition!

特集 is often used in magazines to draw attention to an expanded article, or special feature. Here, the advert from the Jalan website is promoting its campaign to encourage couples to get and visit onsen together. Notice also that ニュロ mark in した〜い. This is also representative of girls’ speech.


混浴できる貸切風呂!

こんよくできる かしきりぶろ!

Private onsen for bathing together!

A nice little nugget here – 貸し切り means to ‘rent out’ something, usually for private hire. So a private bath for you and your lover!


露天風呂付き客室!

ろてんぶろつき きゃくしつ!

Guest rooms with outdoor baths!

The word for outdoor bath is 露天風呂 – literally ‘exposed bath’. It’s a must-do experience in Japan. Nothing beats sitting in a hot outdoor bath on a snowy Winter day! Also note 展望風呂 (てんぼうぶろ) for baths with great views.


男女100人がこだわる宿のポイントBest4

だんじょ100にんが こだわる やどの ポイント Best4

The top 4 things men and women look for when choosing a ryokan

こだわる is the key word here, but it has such an expressive variety of nuances that it can fill its own post, so we’ll save it for the future. For the time being it’s enough to know that it means ‘particular about’ something. In this case, things that men and women look for in particular when choosing an onsen.


A few more expressions on this advert:

開放感抜群 (かいほうかんばつぐん) – Exceptionally spacious
意外と安い (いがいとやすい) – Unexpectedly cheap
お籠り旅行に (おこもりりょこうに) – An overnight trip
特別な日に (とくべつなひに) – On a special day

Alrighty, that’s enough for part 1. In part 2 we’ll examine some small surveys taken on the opinions of couples visiting onsen together!

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