Bath (furo) . . . mirror (kagami)


Bath (furo)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Various, see below
***** Category: Humanity


Japanese people are fond to take a hot bath (furo 風呂),
even to sit outside in the many hot springs of Japan.

Hot Spring, Hot Springs (onsen) 温泉

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A rich person had his own private bathhouse (yudono 湯殿) and many bathing facilities in hotels are now called like this.


CLICK for more fuji photos In the town of Edo, sento public bath houses were common (sentoo 銭湯) and some are still used to our day. Some had great tile paintings with mount Fuji on the side, so the bathers could relax in the
"outside atmosphere".
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !
Sentō and Sento Etiquette

source : 江戸の湯屋

yuya 湯屋 public bath house in Edo
The second floor was an open space to cool down, enjoy a drink and play games or just chat.

Edo shui kaku nara yuya no nikai ban

writing about
famous things in Edo, best is the second floor guardian
of a public bath

. senryuu, senryū 川柳 Senryu in Edo .


You wash outside the tub and then sit in it leisurely to heat the body. The bathtub is used by all family members. The water is let in cold and heated up by a special system, to keep it warm at all times.

There are some seasons that call for a special bath to celebrate!
These kigo are listed below.

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kigo for the New Year

hatsuyu, hatsu-yu 初湯 (はつゆ) first bath
(of the new year)
..... wakayu 若湯(わかゆ) "young bath"
..... hatsuburo (hatsu furo) 初風呂(はつぶろ)
hatsu yudono 初湯殿(はつゆどの)first (use of the) bathhouse
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

do not mix with the ichibanburo, see below.


kigo for mid-spring

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ganburo 雁風呂 がんぶろ "bath for the wild geese"
..... kari kuyoo 雁供養(かりくよう) memorial service for wild geese

A special bath prepared in the Tsugaru area of Aomori prefecture.
The wild geese which come to Tsugaru in Autumn bring a branch of wood in their mouth or carry one with their legs, as legend knows. They do this to rest on the branch when flowing over the ocean. When they reach the shores of the Nihonkai Sea in Tsugaru, they let the branch fall on the beach, and pick it up next spring, when they take off again to fly over the open sea.

When all wild geese have taken off, the people from Tsugaru collect the left-over branches from geese that did not make it during the winter and use them to heat a bath and offer it to travelers as a memorial service for the geese which have perished.

. . . . .

karabitaru mo o takitsuke ni kari kuyoo

adding dried seaweed
for kindling the fire -
remembering the wild geese  

Tanayama Haro (Haroo) 棚山波朗

. WKD : Goose, geese (kari, gan) .


kigo for mid-summer

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shoobuyu, shoobu-yu 菖蒲湯 (しょうぶゆ) "iris bath"
..... shoobuburo 菖蒲風呂(しょうぶぶろ)
rantoo 蘭湯(らんとう) bath with orchid leaves
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

The long leaves of the iris reminded the samurai of their swords. The word SHOOBU 勝負 also means a fight, usually to the death.
To wish for a boy to grow up strong, they put some iris leaves in the bathwater and hung them up around the eaves of the home on the day before the Boy's festival on May 5.

. WKD : Iris (shoobu, ayame, kakitsubata, airisu)  

. WKD : Boy's Festival 端午の節句 Tango no sekku  

Shoobuzake 菖蒲酒 (しょうぶざけ) Iris rice wine

for the Boy's Festival

shoobu Daruma 菖蒲だるま Daruma with Iris Decoration


kigo for all winter

hoshinayu, hoshina-yu 干菜湯 (ほしなゆ)
bath with dried leafy vegetables
..... hoshinaburo 干菜風呂(ほしなぶろ)
..... hibayu, hiba-yu 干葉湯(ひばゆ)
The leaves are said to have medical properties to keep the body healthy. In former times, the cut-off leaves of daikon radish or turnips were dried and put into the bathwater. It is said to help when the body feels cool (hieshoo) and for old people.
Things to keep you warm in winter ... KIGO

Hoshinajiru 干菜汁 (ほしなじる)
miso soup with dried leafy vegetables

kigo for mid-winter

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yuzuyu, yuzu-yu 柚子湯 (ゆずゆ) yuzu-citron bath
..... yuzuburo 仲冬 柚子風呂(ゆずぶろ)
toojiyu 冬至湯(とうじゆ)bath on the winter solstice day
..... toojiburo 冬至風呂(とうじぶろ)
It is the custom to swim a few yuzu fruit in your hot bathwater to make use of its medical properties, mostly to heat the body and keep it warm for a long time in the cold winter night.

. WKD . Yuzu citron, Citrus medica


observance kigo for mid-winter

toshi no yu 年の湯 としのゆ last bath of the year
..... toshiyu 年湯(としゆ)
joya no yu 除夜の湯(じょやのゆ)bath on the last night

. Oomisoka, the last day of the year  

BATHING BEAUTIES - Utagawa Toyokuni


The following words are NOT kigo

bara no ofuro バラのお風呂 bath with roses
Quite popular to relax in the evening, with the faint smell of roses.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

ichibanburo 一番風呂 "first (use of the) bathtub"
Since families wash outside the tub and then share the hot water in the tub, it is hottest and most enjoyable when the first person sits in the tub. This was traditionally the right of the father of the home, next the boys, then the daughters and last the mother.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

iwaburo 岩風呂 "stone bath"
usually at a hot spring, when the "bathtub" is made of local stones. This is said to heat the body even better, making use of the infared emission of the stones.
We have a stone bathtub in our garden, which is filled with fresh water from our mountain and can be heated with a wood stove.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

kazokuburo 家族風呂 "bath for the whole family"
In Hotels the bath facilities are usually divided for male and female guests. Some offer special small rooms where the whole family can bath together. Most need a reservation to use them.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !


sentoo 銭湯 Sento, public bath

- quote -
Sentō (銭湯) is a type of Japanese communal bath house where customers pay for entrance.
At the beginning of the Edo period (1603–1867), there were two types of baths common to the eastern and western regions of Japan respectively. In Edo (present day Tokyo), bath houses contained sizable pools, and were called yuya (湯屋, lit. hot water shop). In Osaka, however, bathing establishments were primarily steam baths called mushiburo (蒸し風呂, lit. steam bath) that had only shallow pools.

At the end of the Edo period,
the Tokugawa shogunate (1603–1868) at different times required baths to segregate by sex in order to ensure public moral standards. However, many bath house owners merely partitioned their baths with a small board, allowing some voyeurism to persist. Other baths avoided this problem by having men and women bathe at different times of day, or by catering to one gender exclusively. In spite of this, laws regarding mixed-sex bathing were soon relaxed again.

Contributing to the popularity of public baths in the Edo period were female bathing attendants known as yuna (湯女, lit. hot water women). These attendants helped cleanse customers by scrubbing their backs. After official closing hours, however, a number of these women would perform additional services by selling sex to male customers. Similarly, some brothels in contemporary Japan have women who specialize in bathing with and cleansing male clientele. Such establishments are often called sōpu rando (ソープランド, soapland).

As a preventive measure against prostitution, the Tokugawa shogunate stipulated that no more than three yuna serve at any given bath house. However, this rule was widely ignored, causing the shogunate to ban female attendants from bath houses altogether and once again prohibit the practice of mixed-sex bathing. Large numbers of unemployed yuna thereafter moved to official red-light districts, where they could continue their services. Up until 1870, there were also male washing assistants called sansuke (三助, lit. three helps) who would wash and massage customers of both genders.
Unlike the yuna, these male attendants were not known to engage in prostitution.

CLICK for more ukiyo-e of Sansuke !

Mixed-sex bathing was prohibited once again after Commodore Perry visited Japan in 1853 and 1854—drawing question to the morality of the practice. ...
- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !

sentoo ni uoya irishi yo fuyu no tsuki

to the bathhouse
a fish peddler enters -
winter moon

A fish peddler, who peddled around all day in the cold wind, so tired from his day’s work and the coldness, entered a bath-house under the winter moon to warm himself. Common workers outside used to take a bath after their daily work. The scene is not so rare, nor uncommon. The fish peddler may take a bath in the same bath-house in other seasons.
It is possible enough that the Poet happened to see some peddler with a carrying pole on his shoulder go into a bath-house on the street under the winter cold moon. The pole on the shoulder made the Poet directly suppose the person a fish peddler and I would rather think if he had not carried a pole, the Haiku would not have been produced. And any substitute of the other two real factors would not have made a haiku either.
A fish peddler, a bath-house and winter moon: ━ the real three together make a harmony of poetic sentiments. Here I feel the necessity of the Haiku being written. The three play respective characteristic role in the Haiku. It all depends on us what roles of the three we read in the Haiku.
source : www.hokuoto77.com

. WKD : Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo .

CLICK for more ukiyo-e about the Sento in Edo!

On the far left you can see one woman coming out from under a low partition. The actual bath was in a special small room, just big enough for about 3 persons, and made to keep the water as warm as possible.


だるまバスボール Daruma Bath Ball
Inside is a ball to throw into the bath water, with the flavor of Yuzu.


Once upon a time in Japan,
men and women shared the same public bath
(konyoku 混浴).

山東京伝 Santoo Kyooden (1761 - 1816)


yubune, yokusoo 湯船 "bath boat"
small boats with a bath for rent in Edo

With its many canals, it was easy to bring the bathouse to the clients.
This is the origin of the word, now used for the modern bath tub.

. chin shoobai 珍商売 strange business in Edo .

yokusoo ni atsuki nami tatsu yuuzakura

in the bathtub
there are hot waves -
cherry blossoms at night

Kushihara Kiiko 櫛原希伊子


yunitto basu ユニットバス unit bath, unit bathroom
A plastic module room, usually containing bath tub, wash basin and toilet. Not only used in hotels, but also in private homes, where the toilet is often separate, to make sure the "morning rush" is spread in two locations.
Some unit baths even feature bubbles or jet streams.
The whole module is made of one material, thus preventing leakages into the hotel or home.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !


Udon noodles eaten in the bathtub !
a custom in Western Sanuki, Shikoku

Worldwide use

Hamam, turkish bath

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Turkish variant of a steam bath, sauna or Russian Bath, distinguished by a focus on water, as opposed to ambient steam.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

Things found on the way

My visit to Yudono San

yudono red sulfur cliff

. Yudono, the Holy Mountain of the Mountain Ascetics  
Dewa sanzan, Haguro, Gassan, Yudono-san

My Photo Album of this trip


New Year's Bath -
a new cake of soap and
a fresh towel

Gabi Greve, New Year 2007


tsutsuganaku yuzu-yu ni tsukaru hyakuju ware

in good health
lying in the hot citron bath
me one hundred years

in guter Gesundheit
im heissen Zitronenbad
mit meinen Hundert

Haiku by Ueda san, 99

Haiku with Hundred
Tr. by Gabi Greve


genshi shinbo yunitto basu de chi o nagasu

atom heart mother -
in the unit bathroom
she is bleeding

or, to stay in line with English grammar

atom heart mother -
she is bleeding
in the unit bath


atom heart mother -
I am bleeding
in the unit bathroom

Tanaka Ami 田中亜美
Tr. Gabi Greve

. Reference

. Reference : Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother

chi o nagasu ... quite a normal way to express "bleeding" in ordinary Japanese language, in fact, the whole structure is quite plain ordinary language, put in 5 7 5 segments.


Torii Kiyonaga 鳥居清長 (1752 - 1815)

hatsuyu ide seinen haha no kyoodai ni

leaving the first bath
the young mother goes
to her dressing table

Takajo 鷹女
source : HAIKUreikuDB

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kyoodai, kagamidai, 鏡台 lit. mirror stand, often a box for the utensils and a mirror. See below.


shunchuu ya mugen o utsusu sanmenkyoo

spring afternoon—
a three-mirrored dresser
reflecting infinity

Chichihara Takashi 乳原孝
Tr. Fay Aoyagi


the mirror reflects the word

~ Beryl Ellecy

. MIRROR - haiku collection from Kenya


CLICK for more information

Ukiah, California, USA
source : ukiaHaiku festival 2011

Related words

kigo for the New Year

kagamidai iwai 鏡台祝(きょうだいいわい)
celebrating the mirror stand

..... kyoodai iwai 鏡台祝(きょうだいいわい)
..... kagami no iwai 鏡の祝(かがみのいわい)

hatsukao iwai 初顔祝(はつかおいわい)celebrating the "first face"

In Samurai Families, on the 20 of January, the mirrors were opened for the first time, some kagami mochi offered and then ritually eaten by the womanfolk.

. hatsu kagami 初鏡 (はつかがみ) "first mirror"  
..... hatsugeshoo 初化粧(はつげしょう)first make-up


Haiku in Hindi

Sanvaarti vah kesh-
aainaa bhi kuchh
khoyaa khayaal men

she combs her hair -
the mirror is somewhat
lost in thought

Sunil Uniyal
India Saijiki April 2010


sekiten rite --
I see father’s face
in the mirror

Chen-ou Liu
August 2010

. Confucius (Sekiten) and
the mirror in Chinese symbolism


***** . First Things done at the New Year


Hot Spring, Hot Springs (onsen) Japan. Bathhouse

furofuki 風呂吹 (ふろふき) boiled radish in broth
lit. "radish in the bathtub"
. . . CLICK here for Photos !
furofuku daikon 風呂吹大根(ふろふきだいこん)

. "mirror rice" (kagami meshi 鏡飯) .  

. iwakagami, iwa kagami 岩鏡 Schizocodom plant .
lit. "rock mirror"
Schizocodom soldanelloides

. WASHOKU SAIJIKI - kigo for all winter food


- quote -
Japanese bronze mirrors
Bronze mirrors were introduced into Japan from China and Korea during the Yayoi period (about 300 BC - AD 300). At first they had a religious function and were regarded as symbols of authority. . . .
. . . Mirrors gradually became more robust. Bronze was copper mixed with tin and lead. They mostly have a central boss, often in the shape of a tortoise, which was pierced and a cord passed through for holding. More new designs and the first handled mirrors appeared in the Muromachi period (1333-1568).

During the Edo period (1600-1868), mirrors decorated with lucky symbols or Chinese characters were given at weddings. Mirrors became larger as hairstyles became more ornate; some mirrors in Kabuki theatre dressing-rooms were up to fifty centimeters across and were placed on stands.
The faces of mirrors were highly polished or burnished, with itinerant tinners and polishers specializing in this work.
. . .
Bronze mirrors were replaced by glass mirrors after the Meiji Restoration (1868).
- source : www.britishmuseum.org

ekagami, e-kagami 柄鏡 mirror with a handle

. . . A mirror with one's family crest may signify the self assertion of the family or individual who used such a mirror. A mirror with a scenic motif, such as Mount Fuji and the pine grove of Miho or the eight views of Omi, may express one's desire to see these famous sights or to travel.

By the Edo period handles, often bound in rattan, were added to Japanese brass or bronze mirrors. The mirror discs also became larger to accommodate the increased size of ladies' hair arrangements. These types of mirror were known as e-kagami.
Perhaps it can be said that the motifs on handled mirrors truly reflected the heart of the Edoite!
- source : www.kyohaku.go.jp

Mirror with auspicious symbols of winter
shoochikubai 松 竹 梅 pine, bamboo and plum blossom - and Mount Fuji

source : edo-ekagami.seesaa.net

- quote -
wakyou (wakyoo) 和鏡
- Japanese style mirrors.

Wakyou were developed as part of toilet sets in the Heian period.
Previously large and heavy Chinese-style mirrors were used as ritual objects at temples and shrines and as burial accessories. Wakyou, although based in technique and shape on continental models, are distinguished from Chinese mirrors by such Japanese-style patterns and motifs as pines, cherry blossoms, wistaria, maples, pampas grass, chrysanthemums, cranes, geese and sparrows.
The matsukuizuru mon kyou 松喰鶴文鏡 (mirror with a pattern of pine eating pine) is a typical Japanese style mirror of this period.
In the Kamakura period, wakyou became thicker and often featured patterns of peonies, butterflies and birds, or Houraisan 蓬莱山 in high relief. Sung period handled mirrors, ekagami 柄鏡, with decoration around the reflective surface were introduced by the Muromachi period.
At first they had a long handle and knob (chu 鈕) in the center of the rear side. Later ekagami became larger and the handle shorter and thicker, with the knob disappearing.
In the Momoyama and Edo periods, mirrors were decorated freely with patterns of landscape and birds-and-flowers, often including the signature of mirror maker or the words 'tenka-ichi 天下一' (best in the world).
- source : JAANUS -

- History of mirrors in Japan -
- reference -

. Matsuyama kagami 松山鏡 The Mirror from Matsuyama .
- a legend with many version -


. Doing Business in Edo - Introduction .

. kagamishi, kagami shi 鏡師 mirror maker .
and Ukiyo-E with mirrors


kagami migaki 鏡磨き / kagami togi 鏡研ぎ 
mirror polisher in Edo

The bronze mirrors of the ladies of Edo had to be polished at least once a year. A good business time for the wayside craftsmen was in winter, toward the New Year.
They sat by the roadside, putting the mirror in front of them whilst polishing it. So they could see their own face all the time.

They were often the subject of senryu.

waga men de kokoromi o suru kagamitogi

using my own face
as a trial object
to polish this mirror

togitate no kagami bikkuri gejo kizetsu

looking into
the newly polished mirror
the servant faints

Maybe now she realized the great difference in her own "beauty" and that of here lovely lady.


Torii Kiyonaga 鳥居清長の美人画

化粧の女 - Woman applying powder
Hashiguchi Goyō 橋口五葉 Hashiguchi Goyo (1880-1921)

. - - - Welcome to Edo 江戸 ! .


. shinkyoo 神鏡 Shinkyo - "mirror of the kami", divine mirror .
- Introduction -





Narayanan Raghunathan said...

mirror bathroom ~
multiplying endlessly
he felt insignificant

Anonymous said...

yama-zato mo sentoo waite haru no ame

even in a mountain village
a public bath is ready...
spring rain

Kobayashi Issa
(Tr. David Lanoue)

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

磨なをす鏡も清し 雪の花
togi-naosu kagami mo kiyoshi yuki no hana

Polished anew
the holy mirror too is clear–
blossoms of snow

Matsuo Basho
(© Tr. Haruo Shirane)

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

hito mo mi nu / haru ya kagami no / ura no ume

Matsuo Basho

On the back of the mirror,
A spring unseen,
A flowering plum-tree

Tr. Takase

Gabi Greve - WKD said...

shinkyoo 神鏡 Shinkyo - "mirror of the kami", divine mirror

The Imperial Regalia of Japan (三種の神器, Sanshu no Jingi / Mikusa no Kandakara), also known as the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan, consist of

the sword Kusanagi (草薙劍, Kusanagi no Tsurugi)),
the mirror Yata no Kagami (八咫鏡), and
the jewel Yasakani no Magatama (八尺瓊曲玉).

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Matsuo Basho

Hitomi Izu no Kami 人見出雲守

Polisher of Mirrors

Gabi Greve - Buson said...

Yosa Buson

秋の夕べ 袂して鏡拭く女
aki no yuube tamoto shite kagami fuku onna

autumn evening -
with the sleeve a woman
wipes her mirror

MORE about sleeves

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

kanarazu ya yu(u)ya yasumite hatsu shigure

always happens --
bathhouse closed
as winter rains begin

This humorous hokku is from the twelfth lunar month (January) of 1811, while Issa was staying with a fellow haikai poet in the city of Edo, so it's probably based on a memory from earlier in the winter. Most of Issa's hosts in the city were ordinary commoners and didn't have baths in their homes, so they had to bathe at public bathhouses. Unfortunately the bathhouse in this hokku is closed just when people need it most -- on the day the first of what will soon be many early winter rain showers pours down. At this time of year windy, rapidly moving cold fronts often pass through, accompanied by series of short, often hard showers that appear, often one after the other and with little warning, soaking people who haven't prepared for sudden rain. Issa seems to be one of them, and when he goes to the neighborhood public bath to warm up he finds it closed. It's not the first time this has happened, and Issa seems to take it in stride. It may well remind him of life itself.

The season of sudden cold rain showers actually begins in late autumn and grows more intense in early winter, when sleet and snow are sometimes mixed with the rain. The waka, renga, and renku poet Matsunaga Teitoku, who established the basic parameters for renku in the early 17th century, stipulates that a hundred-verse hyakuin renku should have one autumn and one winter rain shower verse, with the season being decided by other words in the verse. However, "first cold rain shower" (hatsu-shigure) came to be codified as a winter season word, even though the first actual cold showers more often than not begin in autumn. In this case, the kigo seems to mean "first true cold rain shower," with true having the meaning of typical in terms of the image associations it evokes rather than the exact meteorological details.

In Issa's time public bathhouses in Edo were commonly called yuuya (湯屋), and this is the reading given in the hokku index volume (561) in Issa's Complete Works.

Chris Drake

Gabi Greve - Issa said...

Kobayashi Issa

choo tobu ya kusaba no kage mo yu ga waku to

a butterfly flits--
even in grassy shade
a hot bath's ready

(Tr. David Lanoue)

Gabi Greve - WKD said...

November 26
ii furo no hi いい風呂の日
day of a good bath

every month the 26 is day of the bath

fu ro(ku) 2 6 .
Calendar days in November

Gabi Greve said...

a selection of plastics books you can take inside the bath tub!

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Interior Design - The Japanese Home

Gabi Greve said...

Onsen 河童温泉 Hot Spring
Kappa taking a bath お風呂 -
Kappa no Yu 河童の湯

There are various hot springs and bath houses named after the Kappa.