Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ofuro and Onsen: A Japanese Ritual of Bathing

The Japanese love to soak and bathe in hot springs (onsen) because hot springs are believed to improve the health conditions of a person. It helps to relax and rejuvenate. While it is not proven to have medicinal value, balneologists (scientists who study naturally occurring mineral waters) note there are legitimate reasons people still believe they can improve their health with hot springs.

That is why even in Japanese homes, you will find a small version of the onsen in the form of the furo or ofuro. The furo is a part of the Japanese ritual of bathing, and is meant for relaxing and warming oneself. When I was still in Japan, I would take ofuros to calm my nerves and loosen my tense muscles. I took frequent ofuros especially in the winter time to warm me up. Of course, the tub needs to be filled with hot water first (between 38-42°C) so that if you are not yet ready to soak when the tub is filled, you will need hot tub covers to keep the water warm. The ofuro is also a perfect place to bond with your little children. I remember Samantha enjoying a soak in the tub with me.

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