1512065791

The Way of the Japanese Bath.  Photographs by Mark Edward Harris.
 
The Way of the Japanese Bath.  booktease preview.

The Way of the Japanese Bath.

Photographs by Mark Edward Harris.
Shashin Press, Los Angeles, 2003. 114 pp., numerous black-and-white illustrations, 8½x10¼".

While all the primeval geological and geothermal runmblings under Japan have set off devastating volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and earthquakes (ten percent of the world's volcanic activity occurs in Japan), they have also provided the 127 million inhabitants of the island nation on the Ring of Fire with a very unique way of life. An estimated 100 million people check in each year at Japanese style inns and hotels, often to escape the extreme stress-inducing population density. The 20,00 thermal hot springs that flow from the ground have become meccas, a place to bathe not only the body but the soul as well. In fact, bathing for cleaning is not practiced in Japan. Soap is never brought into a bath either at a communual bath or at home. Washing is done before going into the bath for a soak and then often followed by a thorough rinsing and shampooing after the bath. Physical maladies are often treated at baths with specific mineral properties in the water, The Ainu, the indigeous people of the Japanese islands, used hot springs for healing purposes. An old Kusatsu (a town on the man island of Honshu) folksong declares, "A hot spring bath can cure anything but love." Scientific research continues to be conducted on the medicinal benefits of the hot spring water. For instance, radioactive water is reported to help those suffering from gout, diabetes, chronic digestive problems, gallstones, and fatigue. Sulfur content in the water is considered a remedy for metallic poisoning and is said to clear up a bad complexion.

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