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Ofuro - Making a Traditional Japanese Soaking Tub

Ofuro – Japanese Soaking Tubs

What is an Ofuro? An Ofuro is a traditional Japanese Soaking Tub that has been used for centuries in Japan and Asian Culture. Unlike a traditional bath tubs, an Ofuro is made of wood. The Japanese Soaking tub is deeper than a traditional bath tub and usually sized for one or two persons maximum.

The art of bathing in an Ofuro Tub is also different. Unlike a bath tub, the Ofuro is used to spiritually clean the body not physically. Bathing is 1st done outside of the Japanese Soaking Tub such that the water remains pure and clean when using it. It is not a place for shampooing and soaping the body. Instead a bather is submersed up to their neck or shoulders, they and relax in water temperatures ranging from 110-120 F. The Ofuro is a place to relax and let the body come to a spiritual balance with life.

The structure of the tub is made either from Cedar or Hinoki wood. Both are known for their aromatic aroma that is part of the bathing pleasure. The natural scents of the wood are heightened when hot water is added. Typically a Japanese Soaking Tub is 24-30 deep in the inside. This is much deeper than a bath tub and will allow the water to come to the shoulders or neck of the bather giving them the whole body soaking experience.

Unlike hot tubs and spas there are normally no jets in the water. Silence is part of the Ofuro experience, light music may be part of it but jets and pumps are definitely not! Low lighting provided by candles helps to bring the body to the peaceful state of mind.

Typically the water in the Ofuro is reused. Because a person cleanse before entering the tub it does not get dirty like a bath tub does. Bathers can get multiple uses out of the same water. In Japan the history of the Japanese Soaking Tub was partly created as a way of preserving valuable water resources. The modern day Ofuro has changed very little. North American is bracing the art of Zen which is a practice that other cultures have mastered for centuries. If you are lucky enough to find a spa that has an Ofuro tub be sure to take part in this ancient ritual!

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