Monday, June 15, 2009
A war of cultures - taking the bath
Usually the Salaryman household lives in harmony and the conflicts that do arise get solved peacefully in pretty short order. Mrs. Sunshine-Salaryman accepts some of the cultural quirks of mine, such as wanting to eat crisp bread with almost any possible meal, she accepts that I sometimes pour soy sauce over the white rice and such minor quirks.
However, we have one major cultural battle that has resulted in a stalemate as of now... For the Japanese, the sacred evening bath time. As most of you probably know, taking a bath before going to bed is a very serious custom here in Japan where you wash yourself in the shower first before entering the bathtub clean, so as to leave it ready to use for the next member of the family (you enter it according to seniority and men before women, obviously here in Japan) leaving only one or two straws of hair and the odd skinflake in the bath before getting up. The bath is for soaking and relaxation, not to get clean.
Me on the other hand does not treat the bathtub with the same reverence, I'm all in for functionality. Most of the time I only take a shower and when I do take a bath, it's usually to heat up the body before going to bed in the cold winter months. I'm all for effeciency so I like to combine the activities of cleaning myself with relaxation and soaking, so I just bring all the stuff in the bath and when I get up, warm and clean (which is what I believe but what probably any Japanese reader would contest) I leave a puddle of gray water filled with hair and skinflakes behind. Mrs. Salaryman-Sunshine would probably as well soak her body in the sewers as putting her pristine body into that cesspool of dirt and human fragments. Pouring a new bath also puts an unnecessary strain on the water and heating bill and seems a little rough on mother nature as well.
We have solved it now that she takes the bath first and leaves a crystal clear bathtub full of water for me to fester in. I know that she instinctly is disgusted that I am actually cleaning myself IN the bath and not outside it and then lie down in the dirt I just scraped off, but she has given up trying to convince me to at least wash up a little before, probably living in denial now pretending to not know what is going on in our bathtub after she has left it...
In any case, now it's hot summer soon so the trend has shifted from baths to morning showers, there is very little cultural clashes in that at least. Peace reigns, for now...