It has been many years since I first visited Japan and went to my first hot spring. All I remember was the tour guide telling us that there is no such thing as a mixed gender hot spring! That was of course debunked when we made subsequent visits to Japan on our own. We got to know about the centuries-old tradition of the Japanese bath ritual prior to soaking in the warmth of the hot spring waters. We learned that the hot spring is where the Japanese community bonds together in a public bath. We met old couples who showed us that bathing in the nude is natural and beautiful. Arigatō!
Now, we noticed a change amongst the Japanese. The mixed gender bath (aka konyoku) baths seem more scarce. The Japanese seem to prefer segregated baths under the pretext that it would give the females more privacy. I find this rather strange as being a female I would prefer to bathe with my partner. :p
On occasions when we were at a konyoku, the segregated baths were usually under-utilised as couples will arrange to meet in the konyoku. 🙂 The outdoor konyoku bath (aka konyoku rotenburo) are particularly popular especially those that are surrounded by nature. In such rotenburo, the focus will be on the bamboo forest with its rustling leaves, the snowflakes dancing on the cheeks, the waves crashing against the rocks, and the body cocooned in the warmth of the waters. That was how the Japanese of the past enjoyed their public baths, their hot springs.
Thinking about it, one does not wear clothes to bath, it is just not practical. 🙂 I sincerely hope that the Japanese will strive to retain their traditional values of the mixed onsen and not be influenced by cultures that may be against nudity for whatever reasons.
Ciao for now!