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 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.