As someone interested in bathing culture, I often find myself pondering specific acts and accessories associated with cleansing. Years ago, after a heavy phase of reading up on Japanese bathing culture I wanted to try and incorporate some of this beauty and pleasure into my own crusty, rental apartment bathroom ritual. Since I didn’t have stacks of cash to sink into bespoke hinoki bathing quarters I purchased one of the few things in my price range: a plastic bucket. In Japan these would traditionally be made from a specific type of cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) known for its lemony scent, strength and anti-bacterial properties. I believe my fossil fuel version was from Daiso and to date now I own two. In biosphere-guilt retrospect I probably should have just bought a nicer wood one, but these are handy and I hope to use them into oblivion now that I have them.
Prior to bucket purchase I had never truly meditated on how it feels to pour water over ones head from a bucket vs. a shower head. Surely this was some childhood indulgence I had long forgotten. It REALLY DOES FEEL AMAZING and different! Trust me, try it. The bucket can be anything really: a reused large yogurt container, medium sized bowl or pitcher…essentially a durable vessel you can get wet. I like something with a handle. I find that my bucket also is very handy for cleaning the tub/shower and storing stuff. I like to imagine myself flip flopping down to the sento with my personal scrubby cloth and soap tucked into my bucket.
Another Japanese dollar store purchase has also found its way into my shower: the sand timer. This one I also got at Daiso and since it is made out of lucite I just leave it in the shower so I can keep an eye on how long I have been in there. Mine runs for 3 minutes, so if I’m being “good” I give it two flips and do a 6 minute shower. This is good for those of us living in drought country who want to be more conscious of water use (which really should include all of us resource hogging Americans). As an alternative I’m sure you could also use a digital timer stuck somewhere it won’t get totally soaked. I do like the elegance of the lucite sand timer, though.
Now on to the topic of scrubbing. I recently retired a nasty nail brush made of plastic and decided I would prefer to replace it with something made of natural materials. I ended up going with a wooden brush with tampico fiber bristles. This version is biodegradable, yay! This is the brush from Wild Minimalist I went with:
I have also discovered the joys of showering with only natural light or dimmed light. My shower is plagued by permanent mildew stains all along most of the caulking thanks to a rushed/crappy job at behest of the landlord. To minimize the impact of this blight, I now only shower with the hall light on or with whatever natural light comes through the frosted window. Viola! Stains and crust become less visible in the dim. I’ve also used candles and a modified camping light to attempt a soothing “mood light” for shower time.
If you are interested in learning more about bathing culture I recommend these books:
Japan, A View From the Bath by Scott Clark
Pleasures of the Japanese Bath by Peter Grilli and Dana Levy
Cathedrals of the Flesh by Alexia Brue
The Japanese Bath by Bruce Smith
How To Take a Japanese Bath by Leonard Koren