Monday, 26 October 2009

Not Allowed!

A new sento (hot baths) has opened near my apartment. I quite like sento and onsen (natural hot springs), especially if the facility has some special feature like a sauna or a waterfall. There is a great hot spring resort at the beach near Nagoya where you can sit in a hot bath and watch the planes taking off. (Actually the airport also has its own sento too so you can have a bath and relax before you fly.) And I once went on a school trip to a hot spring resort which had a melon bath. It was a surreal experience sitting naked in a giant green bath surrounded by floating plastic melons, talking adverbs with my students.

All sento have strict rules about who can enter. Some tried to ban foreigners until Japan`s crusading human rights campaigner, Debito Arudo, took them to court. But they still do not allow any drunk people (obviously, as they may drown) and people with tattoos. Tattoos in Japan are worn by society`s so-called losers, only in Japan this means the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia. Ya.Ku.Za is the name of a losing hand in Hanafuda, a Japanese card game.

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