To Bathe or Not to Bathe


I’ve become tired of my life-long passive submission to the powerful shower. Now I prefer the caress of a basin wash. Making little changes to one’s habits can be refreshing. I used to shower to wake myself up but now I’d rather waken slowly. My morning wash has become a pleasant ritual.

My greasy animal-likeness when I rise in the morning repels me. It’s good to wash all of that away. Flannel or sponge I’ve never used, just my hands and a mild soap. I dislike the word “pampering” that is so often used these days to describe things connected to one’s toilette. Candles around the bath, luxurious potions or lotions are not to my taste. Simplicity in my washing is my aim. I once showered in a hillside waterfall without any products or any heat; I wish I could have done that more often.

I have come across a couple of bath scenes in books that I’ve read recently. In Some Prefer Nettles by Junichiro Tanizaki the character Kaname has a bath at his father-in-law’s house. The water is perfumed with cloves. “….a cloudy, sediment-filled medicine bath”.

In The Three-Cornered World by Matsume Soseki, the narrator is in a sunken bath and his vision is obscured by steam. However, he becomes aware that someone else, a woman, has entered the bathroom. She moves nearer. As an artist, he admires the body in a poetic manner, imagining she is some kind of moon maiden. Suddenly the apparition disappears, laughing as she goes.

I’ve included a link below on the interesting subject of Japanese bathing. Also, there’s a link to paintings by Bonnard who often painted bath scenes.