Why are public baths and laundrettes often next to each other?

I’m sure they don’t put the used bath water into the washing machines like many Japanese families do, do they?

Or do they????????

Why do the Japanese keep their medicines in the kitchen?

… along with plasters and such-like. “Is a Band Aid food??” is the question I keep asking my wife and asked my students when we had this discussion, which in fact started with their question “Why do the British and Americans keep medicines in the bathroom?”

My wife’s explanation is that bathrooms in Japan (and here in Korea) tend to get very steamy and mouldy. Most bathrooms I’ve had in both countries have also not had a conveniently sized cabinet to put them in, maybe for the same reason. The only explanation I could come up with for us Brits putting it in the bathroom is that taking medicine is a private thing that you want to do with the door locked. Anyone know what less privacy obsessed Westerners like the Spanish and Italians do?

There could also be more of a connection between food and medicine in East Asia, most clearly seen in China with its medicinal wines, soups for different disorders etc. Think the practical factors above are probably more important though.

If the Japanese are so shy, modest and self-conscious, why are the guys in my gym quite happy to be seen admiring their own naked bodies?

What makes it acceptable is the habit of standing around starkers in the onsen hot spring changing room to let the heat disipate and the moisture not mopped off by the tiny towel dry off. If you are doing it front of the mirror while clenching your stomach muscles, well, same difference…

Why would anyone buy a Tokyo Walker-style entertainment mag that just has endless pictures of restaurants and doesn’t tell you which ones are any good?

Me and a student of mine were pondering on this for ages and then came up with the same answer at the same time- it’s mainly used as a conversation starter, e.g. for a new couple or colleagues groping their way towards a friendship nervously discussing where they should go away for a weekend trip. This realisation of how difficult the Japanese find conversation (even more than the British- see “Watching the English” for details), has been the biggest of all naruhodo moments for me. It explains the popularity of hostess bars, food that keeps your hands busy like yakiniku and okonomiyaki, akachochin mama san bars, karaoke, the endless talk about food and the weather, getting naked with your colleagues in a bath where it’s too hot to speak, limiting discussion of your holiday to the exchange of souvenirs, etc etc etc

Why are Japanese towels so small?

 “…the idea is to let your clean body dry as naturally as possible by exposure to the air”

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