Bathing and Cooking Eggs in Japan: not as unrelated as you might think
I’m not sure we should have visited Japan. Now we’re home, life seems awfully laborious. It started with the taxi from the airport – we had to open and shut our doors, instead of waiting for them to operate under the button-pressing control of our driver.
Then there was the MRT. I’d previously considered Singaporeans to be polite users of public transport, but now it irritates me to have to make my way to the exit of the carriage, when in Tokyo I’d merely had to stiffen slightly as we approached our station for the crowds to part magically to facilitate our leaving. Although maybe that says more about us than Tokyo.
There’s the going back to work, of course (where by “work” I mean “it was a blessedly slow day and I spent a certain amount of time encouraging Sue to go on a bearded lady freak show world tour of picturesque beehives and totem poles) although I believe work normally happens even in The Land Of The Rising Sun; at least that’s what A told us he was doing between the hours of about 9 and 7 in Tokyo when he disappeared off by himself whistling a jaunty tune. He might have just holed up in one of the completely silent basement cafes in Ginza with some tea and a wifi connection and a blissful, glassy-eyed stare.
But the thing I mourn most is my bath. I can’t believe I’ve come back to a place where no robot resides in the tub to fill it with hot, clean water at just the right temperature. Imagine having to actually run a bath. The very idea.
In Japan, the bath actually runs itself, once you touch the green button at the top right up there and/or pre-set the timer. Although I never did figure out which button adjusted the temperature below 43 degrees Celsius, so I ended up having to run cold water in using the shower anyway, which kind of missed the point of having an in-tub bath-running robot do the work, but still.
I’ve decided I want a Japanese-style bathroom in my next house. Check out this arrangement:
We undressed in the laundry and put the clothes straight into the washing machine. The wet area was well drained, waterproofed, and non-slip, vastly reducing the potential for arguments over shower-related tomfoolery. The shower took the dirt and soap off before the bath, leaving clean water for long play sessions complete with the inevitable consumption of bathwater. And there was even a cover to keep the whole thing toasty warm during that mucking around phase where everyone runs around the house either giggling, cajoling, threatening or cursing, depending on their role and the amount of patience they’ve lost over the course of the day. Plus, deep tubs. Awesome. And you can sit wine on the top of the bath cover. Double awesome.
In Traditional Japan The Bath Just Always Runs, and Also Cooks Eggs
Once you’ve had a chance to visit an onsen, it’s clear how the Japanese bathroom evolved. Several of the places we stayed provided communal bathing areas complete with change room, shower area with stools, buckets, and soaps, plus hot springs of varying temperatures to soak in. I don’t have photos of these, because few people on the internet want to see me naked and almost none are invited to, but I can show you this recipe for onsen tamago. As if not having to run your own bath wasn’t efficient enough without adding the ability to cook eggs at the same time!
It’s a simple recipe, as was tactfully pointed out to us by a local street food vendor in Nozawa Onsen when we asked his advice. After a polite period of musing, he said, “You want to try the local dish, onsen eggs? Well, um, there’s a convenience store across the road. They sell eggs. Do you know where to find an onsen?”
You’re supposed to use rope bags, but we didn’t have any to hand, so we went with plastic. The cooking time is twenty to forty minutes and they say the water should be seventy degrees celcuis, but we just used the hottest we could find (I think around fifty). Twenty minutes was as long as was comfortable between the incredibly hot spring water and the chilly air temperature:
– which was enough time to achieve this:
I’ve got a lot more to tell you about Japan, including our wild mountain goose chase through snow so deep it was higher than our mini van on both sides and still falling, and that time we put on a group performance of Dumb Ways To Die at the train station in Nagano, but first I need to catch up with what everyone else has been doing for the past couple of weeks and maybe, you know, run my own bath. Forgive me if my comments are filled with the deep regret of luxuries recently remembered and now lost. That bath was self-filling, you know, and it had a cover which could hold wine.
- Read up on your Japanese public bath etiquette.
- Specific information on the public baths at Nozawa Onsen, including local customs.
- Japan-guide.com tells you more about modern Japanese bathrooms.
- Elle of Life In Japan With Toddlers shows us through her house, including her bathroom, toilet and laundry.
This post appeared first on Journeys of the Fabulist, and didn’t contain any naked communal bathing photos at any point.