Sento: What Not to Do Learn from a bathing goofus

    In what will be the last entry in my Baka Gaijin series (for now anyway), we will explore the many ways to be a baka gaijin at a Japanese public bath, or sento. Last week we learned How to be a Baka Gaijin While Eating, so to wrap things up this week, I thought we should go with something nice and relaxing like a bathhouse. Their serene and peaceful atmospheres are the perfect setting for copious amount of baka gaijinity. Let’s begin.

    1. Wear a Bathing Suit

    Pug in a bathing suit

    At all public bathhouses in Japan, you get a small towel and that’s it. No big towel to wrap yourself in, no board shorts, no polka dot bikini, no nothing. Japanese people enjoy these warm baths the same way they came into this world: butt naked. Shall you follow suit? Hell no! You’re a baka gaijin and you have the right to wear whatever you want, when you want. They call them private parts for a reason – they’re private. So wear your brightly colored swim wear and completely disregard the fact that it’s not allowed. You’re a proud baka gaijin, they’ll understand.

    Screenshot from Thermae Romae of a caucasian man yelling in a public bath
    How embarassing!

    People bathe naked at public bathhouses in Japan. That’s just how it is. You can use that little towel they give you to try and cover up, but they can only cover so much. So you can either make the decision to get over your embarrassment with naked bodies, break the rules and get mean-mugged by everyone there, or just not go to a sento at all. It’s your choice.

    2. Enter the Wrong Bath for Your Gender

    Male and Female signs intertwined

    So you’ve decided to ditch the bathing suit (how brave of you), and are now ready to enter the bathing area. What’s this? There are two different ways to go? No one told us about this. Might as well just waltz right into one of them like a man and hope for the best, right? You’re a baka gaijin and people expect these things. The door on the left it is. Oh, oops – it’s a bunch of naked grannies and now they’re throwing their dentures at you.

    Old woman saying, ‘You are lousy'

    Just like bathrooms in Japan, it is important to know how to distinguish the female entrance from the male entrance. There won’t always be a little picture of a man/woman or English writing on the doors, so it’s always a good idea to know what the Japanese characters for man (男) and woman (女) look like.

    3. Don’t Shower and Just go Straight into the Bath With Your Towel

    Stick man in a shower with a towel saying, ‘Close enough'

    Now that it’s finally time to enter the bath, you see a row of people washing themselves off with little showers. But you didn’t come here to take a shower, you came here to take a bath. So you take your little towel and cover your body as best you can with it while you scurry over to the baths. And since being under the water isn’t enough privacy for you, you dunk your little towel in the water as well to drape over your privates. Ahh, relaxing.

    Old man in an anime washing himself with a shower head saying, 'The water spraying from that pierced cow bowel is used to was ourselves'
    Sound advice, kids.

    Like I mentioned in How to be a Baka Gaijin in the House, when taking a bath in Japan, you’re supposed to shower first so that you don’t dirty the bath water with your human filth. So, by skipping the showers beforehand, you’ve introduced a lot of grime into the baths for everyone else to get on themselves. Well done. You’re also not supposed to take the towel in with you either. You’re supposed to leave it by the side of the baths or drape it over your head if you’re hoopy and froody enough. But what do you know? You’re just a baka gaijin after all.

    4. Engage in Horseplay then Pee in the Water

    A horse lol-ing at another horse

    All this bathing in relaxation nonsense is getting way too boring for you. You’ve had just about enough of this placid and calm junk. These public baths need some real entertainment. So you start playing music on your cell phone, playing catch with your best friend Phil across the bath, and yelling at your girlfriend Michele on the other side of the wall to see if she can hear you over there (she can’t). And then you just get so excited with it all that you pee in the water. Hey, people do it in pools all the time and the water is already warm in here anyway. Who’s gonna notice?

    A man covered in purple powder
    What makes you think I peed in the water?

    Everyone. Everyone will notice. The water in most all Japanese public baths contains a special chemical that turns the water and your body bright purple if it mixes with urine. As such, this baka gaijin act easily takes the cake for the most baka gaijin thing you can do while at a sento. These bathhouses are meant to be a place for people to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life in Japan. People are quiet and respectful of everyone else in there. It’s basically like a library with water. And nudity. And no books.

    5. Rinse Yourself Off With Tap Water

    Young man in the shower with ’Shameful’ overlaid

    Alright so you survived the bath. Good job. Regardless of whether or not you made the choice to clean yourself off before you got into the bath, you decide to shower and wipe yourself down before you leave. It’s not like you know that the minerals in hot spring water used in sento are often beneficial, and washing them off will stop them from taking full effect. Who needs health benefits? Not you, that’s who. Baka gaijin are resilient and strong.

    Being Naked Makes Me Uncomfortable and Stupid

    My Little Pony pony in a bathtub looking bashful

    Yes, being naked can make people shy, embarrassed, or uncomfortable and more likely to follow the conventions of a traditional Japanese bathhouse. But no, not you. You’re a baka gaijin and you brought a swimsuit, dove right into the bath, yelled at your friends, and peed in the water. Baka gaijin to the max.

    You got yourself (and your friends) kicked out, your body is stained purple, and you have a great story to tell everyone back home about how you totally owned those silly naked Japanese people and you’d gladly do it again given the opportunity. Well said**

    Oh, and for those of you who want a more straightforward approach to the ins and outs of public baths in Japan…

    Japanese Bathing Etiquette by Bathing Etiquette by

    So tell me, have you ever had the opportunity to go to a public bath in Japan? I haven’t unfortunately, but I know some people that have. Ever seen anyone make some of these baka gaijin errors? Ever made any of them yourself? Let us know on Twitter!

    **Please realize that this post is mostly satire and is supposed to be funny. I am aware that gaijin are not the only ones who perform the faux pas in this series of baka gaijin posts. They are just meant to draw attention to some mistakes people might make while in Japan in a humorous manner.

    Hugs and kisses <3 J