USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘bath’
Childhood
Customs
general

Bath Time – Japan

My informant was born and raised in Japan, but moved to America to finish her college degree at the University of San Diego. She told me about a childhood custom that is common among Japanese families.

“In Japan a little daughter and dad shower and bath together is normal–with son too. People from other countries say that’s disgusting. (But) it’s because normally dads don’t have time to communicate with their kids cause the work, so bath time is perfect time to have kids time to them. We did until I was 7 or something.”

I knew she had an older brother, so I asked if her dad would shower with both of them simultaneously or one by one. Her response was:

“Both! But that’s only when we’re little like 3 or 4. After that let’s say probably when I’m taking the bath my dad join me after. We just talk and play in the bathtub. Maybe he help me wash my hair, but not the body.”

I thought it was interesting how my informant pointed out how other countries saw this custom as strange, and felt the need to provide an explanation (almost in a defensive manner). I think it is because in Western culture it is more commonly heard of for mothers to take baths with their children since they are the ones to have given birth and are the “caretakers” of the family. A father  taking a bath with his child–especially a daughter– could be interpreted as inappropriate or even as sexual abuse.

However, baths are a huge part of Japanese custom. Japan has numerous public bathhouses located all over the country, varying from rural to urban areas. These bathhouses have large communal baths that are typically segregated by gender. Visitors comfortably bathe and walk around nude in front of complete strangers. With this information in mind, I was not surprised to hear that it is typical for children to bathe with their fathers.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays
Signs

Bath of Pomelo Leaves

Daniel is an immigrant from Hong Kong who immigrated to the United States in search of better opportunities and a better life for both him and his family. Living in a poor family with seven other siblings, he immediately went to work as a police officer after receiving his high school diploma in Hong Kong. Once he moved to Los Angeles, he worked as a computer technician, and subsequently, changed his career to a funeral counselor.

Original Script

In our Chinese tradition, we believe the pomelo leaves can clean up all the dirty, evil stuff. Okay, so uh during the uh New Year Eve night, most of the Chinese, they will like to—I am talking about the Asian ones, the old ones—they will boil some pomelo leaves with a whole bowl of water, so all of the water will turn into green after boiling it. And then they will use the pomelo leaves to take a bath during the New Year Eve in order to clean up all the dirty, evil stuff from them. So they said they will cause them lucky for the coming year.

Background Information about the Performance from the Informant

The informant performed this tradition with his family ever since he could remember as a child. He continues this practice with his wife and children every year on Chinese New Year’s. Although he does not believe in its ability to grant luck anymore, he maintains this tradition because it is a custom he was raised with as a child.

Context of the Performance

I interviewed the informant at his house.

A longstanding tradition of the Chinese for Chinese New Year’s is bathing in pomelo leaves. By cleaning their bodies in water boiled with these leaves, they believe that they are washing away the dirt and casting away evil spirits from the previous year. This tradition follows the Chinese principle of “cleaning” and starting anew for the coming year.

My Thoughts about the Performance

There are many traditions during Chinese New Year’s, such as eating sweets to ensure one a “sweet” year and opening windows or doors to bring in good luck for the coming year. Considering what the pomelo fruit represents to the Chinese—abundance, health, childbearing, prosperity—I find this custom befitting for this holiday.

Tales /märchen

Woodcutter and Angel

Main Piece:

 

나무꾼이 나무를 하다가 숲 속에서 도망치는 사슴을 만나게 된다. 사슴은 사냥꾼이 쫓아오고 있으니 자신을 숨겨달라고 말한다. 말하는 사슴을 신기하게 여긴 나무꾼은 사슴을 숨겨주고 뒤쫓아 온 사냥꾼은 다른 곳으로 보내서 구해준다.

 

사슴은 은혜를 갚겠다고 하면서, 나무꾼에게 선녀들이 하늘에서 내려와서 목욕하는 선녀탕이라는 샘을 가르쳐준 다음 선녀를 아내로 삼는 법을 나무꾼에게 알려준다. 나무꾼은 사슴이 가르쳐준 때에 선녀들이 목욕을 하고 있는 샘으로 갔더니 과연, 선녀들이 하늘에서 내려와 날개옷을 벗고 선녀탕에서 목욕을 하자 나무꾼은 사슴이 가르쳐준 대로 날개옷을 하나 훔쳤다.

 

날개옷이 없어진 탓에 한 명의 선녀는 하늘로 올라가지 못했으며 다른 선녀들은 날개옷이 없는 선녀를 내버려두고 간다. 나무꾼이 선녀에게 자신의 부인이 되어달라고 하자 하늘나라로 올라가지 못하게 된 선녀는 할 수 없이 나무꾼의 아내가 된다.

 

사슴이 ‘아이 셋 낳을 때까지는 결코 날개옷을 돌려주면 안 된다’고 경고했었는데 아이가 둘 뿐인 상황에서 애원을 못 이기고 날개옷을 돌려줬다가 선녀가 아이 둘을 양팔에 한 명씩 끼고 그대로 하늘로 날아올라가 버렸다

 

A woodcutter meets a deer who runs away in the woods. The deer tells that a hunter is chasing him. The woodcutter who wondered about the talking deer hides the deer, and tells the hunter who comes after him that the deer has gone to another place.

 

The deer tells the woodcutter that the female angels come down from heaven and bathe in the spring, and how to make one of them his wife. The woodcutter went to the spring and when the women from heaven were having a bath, he hid clothes of one of the women.

 

One woman could not go up to heaven because her wing clothes were gone, and the other women left. She marries the woodcutter.

 

The deer warned, ‘You should never give the wings back until you have 3 children’ When he had only two children, the wife begged for the wing clothes and he gave them to her and she went away with children to heaven leaving the woodcutter.

Background Information:

This story is widespread throughout East Asia. There are different versions with a similar structure. Unlike other stories, it is hard to find any special lessons from this story.

 

Context:

This story is performed as many different forms like puppet animation, song or TV comedy.

 

Personal Analysis:

This is a tragic love story. It’s told to kids but it’s not really about romance. The woodcutter was deceiving to be lying to his wife about the clothes for a long time, but it is sad that she leaves him so suddenly. Her eagerness to leave makes it seem like there was no love to begin with. It might teach a lesson to follow instructions to live a good life, because the woodcutter didn’t listen to the deer.

Folk speech
general
Humor

whore’s bath

“So a whore’s bath, it sounds funny but it means I don’t have time to take a shower but I’ll just douse myself in perfume, maybe some deodorant. Ya you put on ALOT of perfume and it’s funny because people think you smell really great but you haven’t even showered! So back in the olden day I guess it just meant, I don’ think people could really shower that often and they just had oils and aromas so that’s probaly where it came from historyically. But i learned it from my cousin Neghan. She’s Megan with an ‘H’. I don’t know if this really adds to the story but she’s the one who was my fake ID when I was younger so she was like my cool cousin. I was fake 24 for a real long time. She was my older cousin and older is therefore cool. She always said whore’s bath but I never knew what it was. Some of my other cousins said it too and my Aunt Yaya too. Aunt Yaya smoked alot of grass. *laughs*. I heard this term growing up but now as a 22 year old who is far less ashamed to ask a question, we were in Vegas, cuz we were driving across the country. And in Vegas you don’t have alot of time for showering and so she suggested that I take a ‘whore’s bath’ and I said ‘Well i don’t really know what that means.’ I may have also been a little intoxicated. She said ‘Just throw on a bunch of perfume and some deodorant and go!’ So that’s how I learned about it and I do it all the time *laughs*.”

I personally had never heard of this term. I did some research but I didn’t find anything concrete. It means different things to different people. For some it is similar to a sponge bath. For others it is to only clean the ‘critical’ areas, especially after sexual intercourse. There are several other variations on the definition.

I thought that the inclusion of perfume in my participants definition was interesting. Perfume is often used to heighten physical attraction and to attract a mate. Due to the sexual nature of the use of perfume or even more so the pronounced use of it can be associated with prostitutes.

Also, I found it notable that her use of “whore’s bath” was light and playful in nature. I would assume that even a few decades ago if someone had used the word ‘whore’ towards a women in any way it would be considered an insult. I think this points to the overtly sexual nature of American culture, where women call each other whore’s jokingly and do not use the word in a literal sense and maybe even in a complimentary way.

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