Ofuroyasan, a Public Bath



During the Shikomisan (仕込みさん, Maiko trainees) period, we went to Ofuroyasan (お風呂屋さん, public bath) every night since we trainees were restricted from bathing at our Yakata (屋形, Maiko house). After becoming a Maiko, using the house bath was allowed, but we still went to Ofuroyasan because it was fun.

It could have been very bizarre to see many naked Maiko bathing with their Japanese coiffure hair. However, that was nothing special because the Ofuroyasan was within the Hanamachi (花街, Maiko and Geiko district) and the Hanamachi residents were so accustomed to it.

The bath was always filled with the same old conversations. Every night, we expressed our gratitude for our Oneisan (お姉さん, Geiko) or staff members of Ochaya (お茶屋, Tea houses).

"Good evening, thank you very much for the Ozashiki (お座敷, banquet with Maiko and Geiko) this evening. Can I wash your back?"

"No, it's OK. Just take care of yourself."

"Thank you very much."

Proposing to wash their back was what our Okasan (お母さん, female owner of Yakata) taught us trainees, and it doesn't change after we become Maiko. Elders are elders after all. After I became a Geiko, I often heard myself saying, "No, just take care of yourself" to my subordinates, and it made me feel decent. I even had a Yanagikori (柳行李, wicker trunk) at the dressing space at Ofuroyasan with my name on it.

Nowadays, Ofuroyasan are shutting down their businesses one by one, and have become rare to find. I miss the old days.

Thank you so much.

See you later.

Beniko

#English

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