Public baths originated from a communal need for cleanliness at a time when most people did not have access to private bathing facilities. The term "public" is not completely accurate, as some types of public baths are restricted depending on membership, gender, religious affiliation, or other reasons. As societies have changed, the need for public baths has reduced: dwellings now have their own private bathroom. Public baths have also become incorporated into the social system as meeting places.
1. You’ll Be Naked
The first time I heard about a jjimjilbang , or Korean bathhouse, I couldn't help but be intrigued. Friends told me it was a relaxing type of spa where women experienced luxurious pools, saunas, and treatments — all while fully nude. Nudity had never been an issue for me until after childbirth , when a stretched abdomen and saggy breasts took up permanent residence on my body. I even tried to get a breast lift to reclaim my self-confidence, but the procedure left me with botched, scarred, and concave breasts, thus ending any desire I had to be naked in front of someone else. I still went to the spa, but never indulged in treatments that required full nudity. Even my own husband hadn't seen me completely naked since , a decision he constantly challenged by inviting me to shower with him after half-clothed sex I always said no.
They show just a snippet of what is likely a total of around photos my family and I managed to take during a three week long trip around a bunch of different cities in Japan namely Tokyo and Kyoto. Japan was the ultimate culture shock; vending machines selling full on dinner dishes, neon signs, lots of people and a vibrancy like no other. I was young, and probably a whole lot more impressionable than I am now, but I just remember how utterly different everything was. This was also around the time of my 16th birthday, a date where girls celebrate with big helium-filled number balloons and the occasional cheeky sip of beer if their parents are liberal enough.
This open-minded attitude to the naked body started in the 19th century, when Scandinavian-style steam baths became popular; then, in the late 20th century nudity became widely accepted on beaches, in city parks and on walking trails. Recent years have seen a decline of nakedness in such outdoor settings, but the unadorned body is still the standard at bathhouses. Each bathhouse, generally containing the German word bad bath in its name, will have a clothed area centred on a swimming pool, much like any municipal fitness centre.