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Journal: Lodgings

Note: This Journal entry was written on September 15th, 2001, as I walked on the Old Tokaido. Take a look at that day's Logbook for more.


There's nothing philosophical about today's entry. I just wanted to give you some background on the types of places where I'm staying. I've listed them below, with some of the salient features:

Private homes: Twice I've been blessed with invitations to stay in my friends' homes. They're pretty much the same as a Western house, with one big exception: the bathroom. (This will be a sort of theme today.) The bathroom in a Japanese house is really a BATH room. The toilet is usually in another room (as was the case in both of the places I stayed.) Further, the tub itself is generally bigger than a Western one, with more features.

This is because of the Japanese style of bathing. One bathes outside of the tub, washing and rinsing using either a tap and bucket or a shower hose. Then one slips one's clean body into the tub for a good soak. This way, the whole family can use one tub of water. There is usually a circulating heating device to keep the water hot (typically very hot) for everyone. We never use soap or shampoo in the clean tub water. You'll be hearing more about this type of bathing in a minute.

By the way, as is usual, both of the houses I stayed in had the washing machine in the bathroom. I should make it clear: the bathroom is really two rooms. There's a "dry" room, with a sink for brushing the teeth and so on, and the washer; and a "wet" room, comprising the soap-and-tub areas described above.

Ryokan: This is a fairly traditional-style Japanese inn. The rooms are often tatami (straw mat) floored, and the furniture is low to the ground. Bedding is usually a futon. Though they're sometimes in the room at an added price, both toilet and bathroom are usually outside, down the hall for use by all. Yes, this means bathing with strangers. But the effect of the hot bath is more than enough compensation for any embarrassment caused. I've used sento (public baths) in Japan, too; this is the same principle.

In most ryokan, by the way, the toilets are Japanese style. Never seen one? Here's a picture:

You stand over the porcelain trench and squat. Not all that comfortable, but very efficient. Proper etiquette is to slip off your room slippers and slip on the toilet slippers before proceeding.

Business hotels: About what you'd expect: small room, lingering smell of smoke, unit bath (bath and toilet together). Also usually includes a pay-for-porn TV option. One advantage: total self-contained privacy.


Well, that's the range of where I've stayed so far (except for that night in the apartment building's parking area). I expect to hit a few youth hostels along the way, not much different from anywhere in the world. And I'm more likely to sleep out once I hit Shikoku. [2019: I did not.] More as it develops.

Posted September 25, 2019

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