Knoksters are known for their love of authentic experiences and doing as the locals do! That said, here's an idea for your next home exchange in Japan: a visit to a genuine public bath house. These bath houses are part of everyday culture in Japan and represent the ongoing presence of the country's most ancient traditions.

Due to their popularity, you can find a sentou in most neighborhoods and within nearly every city of the country. There are also numerous bathing options apart from the standard, for example the Onsen are thermal baths located in volcanic zones; or the Rotemburo, which are openair baths often surrounded by nature.

Coming back to the great tradition of the sentou...these public baths offer great variety with some surprising novelties. With any luck you might find yourself in a sentou equipped with a jacuzzi, sauna, gym, video salon, and cybercafe...and the most important thing, an ofuro! An ofuro is a ginormous bath with piping hot water where bathers may enjoy a nice and relaxing scald. But be careful not to get ahead of yourself...

Before entering any ofuro, you must complete the following ritual:

  Step one: wash yourself! Though it may seem coutnerintuitive to bath before you bath, entering into an ofuro is considered sacred, and thus one must cleanse the body using special towels and by pouring buckets of water over the head.

Once everyone is good and clean, head towards the Ofuro! Normally the temperature of the baths is between 43 and 50 degrees. As a foreigner you might find it challenging to lower your body into temperatures overs 45º while for a local, it's a walk in the park.

As you can see, the sentou are quite an experience and what's more, they are a ritual you may share with the true residents of Japan. One last tip to keep you from embarrassing yourself or offending others: Read the standard guidelines first!  So are you ready to take a dip in a Sentou? The Knokster community will be waiting to hear all about it!