It looks like a shoe and might break when you put water in it…so of course we bought it.

Recently, our Japanese-language reporter Masanuki Sunakoma has been taking on some difficult assignments. In the last month alone, he’s tried out both Amazon Japan’s worst-rated wooden coffee mug and their worst-rated hat (although he did at least figure out how to make money off the second one).

With so many tough days at work, Masanuki’s been looking for a way to recuperate without having to go very far from his desk. That search took him once again to Amazon Japan and their selection of portable bathtubs, and Masanuki became convinced that an in-office soak is just the thing he needs to soothe his strained writer’s soul.

So naturally he bought the lowest-ranked one Amazon has.

Priced at 4,860 yen (US$42), it’s listed on Amazon as the Pugwei Collapsible Bathtub Collapsible Bathtub Shoe Shape Portable Bathtub House Family Bathroom Simple Bathtub Washbasin Garden-use Adults Kids Immersion-type Bath Spa Sauna Bath-use Camp Water Bath Pool Portable Convenient in the Shower Room Bucket (Red). Yes, “Collapsible Bathtub” comes twice in a row, but manufacturer Pugwei obviously wasn’t going for brevity in the name.

If we condense its name down to a snappy acronym, the PCBCBSSPBHFBSBWGAKIBSSBCWBPPCSRB (Red) has a dismal 1.5-star review average. However, there are only two reviews, so Masanuki still had hope that those low scores were from two people with unreasonably high expectations. Then again, one review says “The tub’s frame snapped when I put water in it,” which seems like a pretty major flaw.

The PCBCBSSPBHFBSBWGAKIBSSBCWBPPCSRB requires assembly…and also quite a bit of problem-solving skills. Why? Because it doesn’t come with any instructions. Masanuki wasn’t even sure what all the parts were, though he could at least tell that he was supposed to make some sort of frame with the rods and attach the plastic sheet to it in order to form the tub.

The Amazon Product page offered a tiny bit of help, saying that in order to put it together “You don’t need to inflate it. It is easy and quick to put together by passing through the brackets,” but didn’t specify how those brackets should be formed or arranged.

Masanuki had to resort to looking at photos of the assembled tub on Amazon and looking for components he could recognize in the completed version. He made a major breakthrough when he deduced that he needed to take one of the flexible rods and pass it through the top edge of the plastic sheet to form the rim of the tub.

As you no doubt remember, the first two Ss in PCBCBSSPBHFBSBWGAKIBSSBCWBPPCSRB stand for “Shoe Shape,” and Masanuki figured he was done when his tub looked like a red Converse Chuck Taylor.

▼ Apparnetly the Chinese text on the gray carrying case translates to “Collapsible bathtub, high-class lifestyle.”

Now it was time to fill up the tub, which, according to one reviewer, was when their tub’s frame snapped. Though we run a pretty laidback office at SoraNews24, flooding the workspace is one of the few things you’re not allowed to do, so Masanuki decided to err on the side of caution and only fill the tub with enough water to go up to his waist on his first soak.

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

The tub passed its first test by not breaking, and as Masanuki sat there soaking in the middle of the office, he was overcome with a sense of luxury.

Sure, the fact that he’d just used hot water from the kitchenette tap meant it wasn’t as warm as it would have been if he’d boiled or otherwise heated it. But the contrast between what he’s usually doing in that room, typing away in pursuit of journalistic excellence, and relaxing in a private bathtub, created such a special atmosphere that he couldn’t help but feel like he was living the good life.

“I’d give this three stars,” says Masanuki. He reserves the right to revise that down if the tub falls apart the second time he tries to use it, but for now, it’s still waiting right next to his work desk, for the next time he needs a very unusual break.

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