Just because you can’t go to a hot spring doesn’t mean you can’t have a sublime soak.

As in many countries, right now a lot of people in Japan are frustrated about not being able to go out to eat because of the coronavirus. A unique frustration to life during the pandemic in Japan, though, is the frustration of not being able to go out to take a bath.

Japan is rich in natural hot springs, and even in the urban environment, you can find public bathhouses where you can soak away the physical aches and mental fatigue of even the most hectic day. The highlight of a hot spring trip is always the rotenbuo, or open-air bath, but with Tokyo’s number of new coronavirus infections hitting record highs this week, our Japanese-language reporter Go Hatori has been doing the responsible thing and staying home, which also means bathing at home, and thus indoors.

“But man, I could really use a rotenburo soak,” Go thought to himself while scouring the Internet for ways to use his share of the company expense account, which is when he found something that would simultaneously solve both his problems: a portable bathtub.

Offered by a company called 8tail for 4,980 yen (US$47) here, this was an instant purchase by Go, who waited impatiently for it to arrive. When it did, he quickly opened up the box and found the soft-sided material for the tub itself as well as a bundle of plastic parts to assemble the frame with.

According to the instructions, putting everything together should only take about three minutes, and they weren’t lying, as Go really was able to get everything done in that much time. The process is sort of like putting together a tent, only simpler and with far less swearing and regret about not just renting a cabin instead.

Since he was after the rotenburo experience, Go’s plan was to use the tub on his balcony, but this presented a slight problem, because he doesn’t have a hot water source out there. So while he was ordering the portable bathtub he also picked up an adapter that would let him hook a hose up to his kitchen sink here, which cost him an extra 600 yen.

▼ But remember, expense account

With that, it was time to fill the tub. Since the flow of water was limited to what his kitchen faucet could pump out, this ended up taking about 30 minutes. This isn’t that big of an inconvenience, though, because if you’re bathing Japanese-style, you’re supposed to shower first and then hop into the tub with an already-clean body, so that half-hour is enough time to take care of washing yourself prior to your soak.

Once the tub was filled, Go poured in a packet of hot spring-style bath salts

…and then all that was left to do was strip down and hop in!

And just like that, less than an hour after the package had been delivered to Go’s door…

…he was delivered to paradise.

Sure, it’s not the largest tub, but even these compact dimensions aren’t entirely out of line with the Japanese hot spring experience. As a matter of fact, at any hot spring one of the most coveted spots is an okeburo, a barrel-like single-occupant bathtub.

Best of all, the material the portable bathtub is made from does a remarkably good job retaining heat, so Go’s water stayed nice and warm for his entire soak.

So with a hot spring trip still looking a little dicey for the near future, if you’re looking for Go and can’t seem to find him, check his balcony.

Images ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]