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“Washing Off the Dust”: Baths and Bathing in Late Medieval Japan

“Washing Off the Dust”: Baths and Bathing in Late Medieval Japan

By Lee A. Butler

Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 60:1 (2005)

Summary: This article analyzes bathing practices during the late medieval period (1338–1600) of Japan, an era of particular richness in the uses and styles of the bath. Although baths and bathing were not uncommon in ancient and early medieval times, their place in society and culture was limited, both in numbers of participants and in the range of practices associated with bathing. Baths of those eras were, for economic and social reasons, limited largely to a narrow elite of courtiers and clerics.  By the early fifteenth century, changes were occurring, and in the next two centuries the bath developed into a significant social and cultural institution.

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