Bathhouse as a social hub?

I really enjoyed this interview, from Tokyo-based PingMag, with a German photographer, Julia Baier, about her experience in Japanese sento, or bathhouses. A few of her photos are in the article but it’s worth reading about her experience. Something she mentions again and again is the communal nature of these places as people must share an intimate moment together when they are naked and washing. Because sento cater to the local neighborhood, Baier points out that bathers begin to know one another through this regular contact.

I am always fascinated by the little things that forge social connections. I recall riding the bus when I lived in Prague — people and faces soon became familiar along my route. There is something socially valuable about shared experiences, even the mundane, but I would be hard pressed to think of many in this country. Sometimes I feel like even where opportunities exist for social interaction, people are hesitant or downright resistant.

As always, your thoughts are welcome in the comments section.

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~ by Daniel on 19 August, 2008.

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