Four annoying behaviours commonly seen amongst men at the onsen and sento.

Japan’s bathing culture runs deep, with a wide variety of baths to suit different purposes and ailments.

One bath that tends to fly under the radar is the “mizuburo“, or “cold bath“, which people use to acclimatise their bodies after stepping out from the heat of the sauna. Usually set at a temperature of around 18-20 degrees Celsius (64-68 degrees Fahrenheit), this bath is generally tucked away in a corner at a public bathing facility and is a lot smaller than the other baths on site.

Our Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa frequently uses these baths so he’s a big fan of them, but they come with a downside — a lot of “oyaji” (the casual term for middle-aged men) tend to use these baths as if they’re their own private swimming pools.

So Seiji is here today to grumble like the self-confessed oyaji he is, giving us all a lesson in how not to use the mizuburo at a public bath, whether it be at a a sento or onsen, with an introduction to the four types of oyaji behaviours that ruin the experience for everyone.

1. The Bathing Pigeon Oyaji

This is the man who comes out of the sauna, gets into the bath and proceeds to flap his arms about like a bathing pigeon. Sometimes he’ll even emit a noise while flapping his arms about, and can be seen washing the sweat off his face as well.

Civilised human beings know to wipe the sweat from the sauna off of their face and bodies with a towel before entering the mizuburo, but these Bathing Pigeons don’t consider the humans around them, and sometimes they’ll sit a little too close for comfort in the bath too.

2. The Foot Splish Splash Oyaji 

One day, when Seiji was waiting in line to use the mizuburo as it was at full capacity, an oyaji sat down on the side of the bath and proceeded to splash his legs about in the water. Seiji was dumbfounded by this rude display of inconsideration, not just for those in the bath around him, but for the others waiting patiently to use the bath. He really didn’t feel like soaking in the bath after that, although he did in the end, but he’ll never forget the rude actions of the Splish Splash Oyaji.

3. The Underwater Oyaji 

This oyaji doesn’t sit on the edge of the bath like the Splish Splash Oyaji — he goes to the other extreme by fully submerging himself underneath the water instead. It’s basic manners to never submerge one’s head underneath the water while using any shared bath, and just because the water isn’t at a high temperature doesn’t give anyone a free pass to try it.

4. The Splash Oyaji 

This is the most common type of oyaji, who splashes ladles of water from the bath over himself before getting in. The problem with this is the Splash Oyaji ends up splashing everyone around him, including those in the bath, who don’t appreciate having his secondhand, body-tainted water splashed in their faces and in the water they’re bathing in. Oyaji who want to splash cold water on themselves should go have a shower instead.

So if you ever find yourself needing to use the mizuburo at a public bathing facility, fingers crossed you don’t encounter any of these annoying oyaji. As long as bathers mind their manners with the proper etiquette, the shared bathing experience can be great for everyone!

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