The Manner Wars

Another reason I love Yudonburi, is its posters.  These signs feature original images of anthropomorphic pink rabbits (or bears?…).  The rabbit-bears exhibit atrocious manners while grinning mindlessly, in order to remind sento-goers of all the things we shouldn’t do.   And I love them, whatever they are, because they do not look like me.

“Manners,” are a relative concept.  The Japanese have spectacular manners… according to Japanese people.  In some societies (Japan), talking too loudly in a public bath is unforgivable.  In others cultures (probably anywhere else), however, posting exaggerated illustrations of “outsiders” doing all the wrong things in a comically stereotypical manner is not considered very polite.

Ok so obviously #notallsentos, but I have been to many establishments that paper half their walls with drawings of visibly clueless, inconsiderate, unclean foreign people behaving badly in order to illustrate “what not to do” at a Japanese bath house.   And all the while, the facial features of those behaving properly in the bath are undeniably those of Yamato Japanese.

And I know that it’s #notallnakedoldladies, but sometimes I feel like the other bathers are just watching and waiting for me to do something abhorrent.  So if I ever see any garbage on the ground, or- god forbid- a strand of hair in the bathtub, I always pick it up immediately.  This is hardly because I am the helpful sort, but rather, because I am the one most likely to be blamed for the breach in cleanliness or etiquette.  And that is due, at least in part, to the posters.

Curious, I did a little google image search to see how prevalent this trend really is, and from there it was just too easy.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

Ok so obviously, the first thing any westerner wants to do upon entering a Japanese path, is don an ill-fitting bathing suit.

We are also quite reluctant to wash the mounds of mud off our bodies before jumping in the tub.

Once we get into the bath itself, most non-pure-Yamato-people cannot resist the urge to soak our towels and hair in the communal water.

Ok, even though taking nude photos of unsuspecting strangers as they bathe is totally acceptable in our own countries, Japanese People are Considerate of others, so…

Another thing we think is totally fine, is throwing cold water into a hot bath so that it is no longer hot, but let’s try to restrain ourselves, ok?

And this?  Also fine!

As curly-haired foreign people know best of all, a public bath house is the best place to wash all our laundry.And show off our new tattoos!







And could we try to be quiet for once?  Nah.  What fun would that be…

But surely it is ok, then, to drip water all over the locker room?  This is a very popular activity among non-Japanese, it seems.

And I know we all want to, because food and bathing go so well together, but don’t do this either.

I don’t know about you, but this one is, like, my all-time favorite thing to do.

And this… well.. I am out of words.

For the last one, um, I honestly don’t know what they are doing wrong*.  I would say they were dripping too much water but they are in the shower room, not the changing area, so how could that be avoided?  No holding hands?  No smiling or enjoying life?

Oh wait, I see it now.  It’s obvious, actually.

The message is painfully clear: “Don’t Be Foreign”.


*No pressure, but if you know something I don’t, feel free to copy the image and insert your own caption.  I stole it off of Google Images fair and square…

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