Why the Japanese don’t shave

OK, now this is something that often takes many a gaijin by surprise, especially when it comes to western men having sexual encounters with Japanese women. Indeed, neither women nor men tend to care for their intimate zones to the extent that us, foreigners, do. I guess, it comes like such a shock because we are so used to seeing picture perfect Japanese, armed with numerous makeup tools, shamelessly doing touch-ups on the trains, escalators and whatnot, so it’s natural you’d think with such an importance placed on appearance, they’d go all the way.

But, alas, the reality is very different.

Perhaps, one of the reasons hides in the tradition of the onsen? The public hot spring baths are usually entered wearing nothing but your own fur. On the other hand, the Japanese are also known for being rather shy and express a strong undesirability towards nudity. For example, it is considered rude to flash your belly and you’ll rarely see deep cleavages during the day (the Japanese miniskirt tends to be a phenomenon though).

So perhaps, in order to enjoy the pleasures of the onsen with minimum embarassement, it is crucial to keep all you’ve got to cover yourself as much as possible. But on the other hand, why didn’t it become more common to wear bathing suits in the onsen?

And moreover, there is a rather strong preference in the Japanese society to adapt, rather than to stand out. In fact, you should want to avoid to stand out at any cost. According to a female Japanese friend of mine, if you do enter an onsen or a similar setting with a “brazilian”, people would most likely question your choice, seek for an explanation of such an extraordinary behaviour. Moreover, quite possibly others would feel intimidated by such an outrage and as a Japanese, you would want to avoid that by all means, right?

Since I haven’t had a chance myself to enter an onsen yet, I’m curious if foreigners feel the same pressure to “cover up”? Do you get curious, or perhaps even reproachful, looks…?


Even the monkeys in the onsen like to “cover it up” :)

EVEN MONKEYS LIKE TO “COVER IT UP” IN THE ONSEN :)

Onsen (hiragana:おんせん; kanji: 温泉) is a Japanese hot spring. Soaking in an onsen is a common way to relax after a workout, hence onsens are rather popular in skiing resorts and sometimes even in gyms! I guess the only downturn on bathing in an onsen is that the warm water is a good way to transmit infections, like the Athlete’s foot and such.

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29 responses to “Why the Japanese don’t shave

  1. I was wondering the same thing about going to an onsen. I mean, its obviously something that most Japanese go to sometime in their life, and I would like to try it once… but I’m worried about the looks I’ll get, and what I’m supposed to do and what I shouldn’t do etc…

  2. Well, I guess it’s not that much of an issue for me because I have a bad feeling I will never get to experience that pleasure… Generally, you’re not allowed into onsen if you have a tattoo, and I have a pretty big one that I cannot hide :(

  3. Don’t worry at all, no one is self conscious when they actually get there. I even sat outside in the rain to cool off with several other businessmen. They’re not as…bashful as we are about this sort of thing.

  4. Yeah, I heard so too! The “oh-so-shy-don’t-show-your-belly” Japanese don’t feel so ashamed of their naked bodies in the onsen..

    …but on the other hand, I wonder if they get self-conscious when a “different type” invades? With a full on Brazilian and a massive tattoo? :))))

    A gaijin friend of mine has been talking about the greatness of onsen for months now, I think it’s time to finally give it a shot.
    I recently found some info about a “tattoo-friendly” onsen in Tokyo so if anyone needs some links, let me know!

    • My boyfriend and I are going to Japan in august and at the top of our list is to visit an onsen but he has a full sleeve tattoo! Could you give me the info on this tattoo friendly onsen?

    • I would love to know about some tattoo friendly onsen in Tokyo!!
      I have a ship across my foot and I’m going to Tokyo in January.

  5. I would love to know about a tattoo-friendly onsen! I would like to visit Japan when I see Asia this winter, but I have full-sleeve tattoos and don’t want to waste my time. I love to soak all over, but I have heard about tattoo prohibitions at the onsen. Thanks.

  6. I’ve been to lots of onsen, I have a brazilian and tattoos, and no one has ever said a thing. Of course, nihongo ga skoshi wakarimas!!! :)

  7. Pingback: #6 Do not shave your pubes « 日本 / JAPAN / JAPÓN

  8. I’d definitely like the info on the tattoo-friendly onsen, please! Right now I have 4 small tattoos, and by the end of the year i’m hoping to get a big one on my leg and 2 other msall ones, so a place like that would be great to know.

  9. Doesn’t tatoo-friendly onsen sound like Yakuza onsen? I read that the only reason they have the no-tattoo rule is that they don’t want Yakuza in their pools.

  10. I asked my Japanese girl friend to shave down there for me because it’s difficult to have oral S*X
    she refused giving me two reasons
    1: she goes to Onsen so it would be odd for her as other girls are not shaving their pubic hair , she wants to hide her down part
    2: she told me only porn star girls would shave there viginas in Japan
    I have one Q Too I love her alot and she loves me too
    but she informed me that I never made her cum
    while she is perfectly wet whenever I had her also was long on the bed
    she informed me I am not skilfull???

  11. think there are other interesting matters to know in Japan rather than checking if they shave or not unless you are a “voyeur”

  12. What is it with this generation? Not only do they find it unacceptable no to shave, they assume it’s the “Western Way” or some BS. It was only ***ONE*** generation ago when almost NOBODY shaved, people! Even porn stars! There’s nothing in the least bit strange about the Japanese not shaving, and no need to go looking for “reasons”—what you SHOULD be asking is why ***THIS*** generation of young Westerners is freakishly obsessed with shaving!

  13. A Hairless Gaijin

    It is not true at all that “NOBODY” shaved, in fact even remote tribes in Africa consider it unclean and unacceptable no to shave and Buddhist monks shave all their hair off.

    In general, the h0tter the area, the more important shaving becomes, after all there are animals that are specialized in surviving in pubic areas. Same goes for circumcation, which has been popular in hot areas (enforced by the local religion of course) and has also shown to significantly reduce the risk of HIV infections. I am not circumcised, but I accept reality.

    It is a general difference in how various societies value visual features. Teeth seem to be unimportant too, almost all Japanese I have seen have yellow and crooked teeth with obvious fillings and certain tools for oral hygiene are hard to get and expensive, often they don’t contain fluorid. There are also numerous reports about the extremely bad smell of some women’s crotch, an area that is rather avoided than dealt with.

    Personal choice is way less important than expectations by society, so until there is an official shift, it will be hard to convince an individual, as soon as the new trend is set though, everyone will agree that it’s much better this way, hopefully this happens soon, for the benefit of all sides.

    I would certainly sacrifice the Onzen, if that is the only way.

  14. Given the context (a blog about Westerners in Japan), I would have assumed that anyone would have read “nobody” as meaning “no Westerners”. Which is hyperbolic, true, but it is also true that merely one generation ago, the vast majority of Westerners would not have even considered shaving their pubes. In fact, it’s quite likely that those who did would have faced derision. I was responding mostly to the blogger’s belittling of the Japanese—he certainly doesn’t seem to find it “curious”—he finds it worthy of derision (and apparently every other aspect of Japanese society, if you read his other posts).

    Your claim that circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection is a contentious issue. Several studies have shown that circumcised males have up to a 63% less risk of contracting HIV. However, quite a number of studies have shown the exact opposite—that circumcision *increases* the risk. Don’t believe me? Two minutes with Google would have prevented you from making such a ridiculous statement. For example: , which was the very first hit returned by Google.

    When it comes to teeth, you’re confusing two issues:

    People with crooked teeth were born that way—it is absolutely unrelated to brushing. It just so happens that braces are less common in Japan that in many Western countries (although the number of Japanese having braces has increased dramatically over the last decade). At worst, crooked teeth may offend your aesthetics, but there’s nothing actually wrong with it. And it’s not like it’s uncommon for Westerners to have fillings. I have one, and my mother was a dental nurse.

    As for brushing: the Japanese do seem to be rather tolerant of those who don’t brush their teeth, but those who don’t are certainly in the minority. It’s the ones that don’t who stick out in your memory. The “no fluoride in the toothpaste” thing is also far less true than it was a decade ago—today you’ll have trouble finding a toothpaste with no fluoride in it. There’s no fluoride in the water supply, though, which bothers my children’s dentist.

    Your comment about “the extreme bad smell of some women’s crotch”—this is given without any context whatsoever. Women in general? Japanese women? Western women? I’ve heard it said about Western women on occasion (although have yet to experience it), but never once about Japanese women. In fact, I’ve heard numerous Western men talk about how great it is that Japanese women’s crotches don’t smell (which went over my head, because I haven’t encountered a smelly Western woman’s crotch as yet. I suppose it’s because I prefer women who bathe regularly? I hope you crotch-shavers don’t assume that shaving down there means you’re now so clean you don’t have to shower!)

  15. Just to drive the point home. I guess it was silly to assume I could just drop in the literal tag and have it display—instead it turned the rest of my post into a link to nowhere.

  16. thank god japanese women don’t shave the way western women do. i think the shaved snatch thing looks ludicrous. i hate it. i like trimmed hair so it’s neat, but i hate the whole bare thing. looks like a plucked chicken, and there’s nothing to play with. it is refreshing that some women out there still appreciate natural beauty. also pubic hair seems more erotic to me just generally. when i see it, it seems more risque.

  17. shaving is stupid and looks hideous.and yeah, why the question of why women “DON’T” shave. i think the question should be why DO they shave. if you want to, that’s fine, but who gives a crap if women don’t. thank GOD they don’t. i hate this shaving trend. you look like an idiot and a child.

  18. At least trim dammit. I don’t think many people like plucking hairs out of their mouths or having to sneeze mid fellatio because the hair is tickling your nose.
    Now if your going to rant about how I shouldn’t say things llike “most people”, rip out one of your pubes and put it in your mouth and see how it feels, bet it isn’t pleasant..

  19. Thanks a lot! I visited to many pages before your blog to find out reason of not shaving! non of them described the reason as you do so thanks a lot and keep up the good work!

  20. Unsubstantiated assumptions of a gaijin that’s lived in Japan.

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  22. I have been to a couple of onsen and I am gaijin. The majority of Japanese folks do not mind as long as you stick to their strict etiquette. I have offended a few people by not doing so because of my ignorance, but I was unshaven so it wasn’t that. One thing I did not realise was that outside of the water, you must remain covered with a towel at all times. This confused me (partly because of my aspergers probably) because if you’re going to be naked in the onsen, why not be naked around the onsen? I guess rules are rules, even if the rules don’t always make sense

  23. I that don’t shave sexy

  24. Lol I’m Japanese and there’s one thing that’s crystal clear : Our not shaving under there has nothing to do with Japanese onsen culture. We just don’t have custom to shave pubic hair and that’s all. That being said, my boyfriend is from the West and I shave there clean and yes, I admit it, now I prefer to have Brazilian style to being fluffy down there. Am feeling much cleaner.

    • My wife told me one reason is her mother told her women don’t shave and she also said that you would be embarrassed and having the doctor see you shaved

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