Japanese Bathhouses: A Cultural Staple
Simmers everywhere are thrilled to experience Snowy Escape’s Japan-inspired world of Komorebi on November 13th. Maxis has decked out this new expansion pack in many Japanese-esque traditions: cultural festivals, genken entryways, kimonos, and onsen. This has many western Simmers scratching their collective heads however. Just what is an onsen?
For many westerners, bathing in public is unthinkable. However, in Japan, public bathing is a tradition not only deeply acceptable but also incredibly spiritual. It is one thing to bathe at home, in a a veritable puddle of a tub, but quite another to sink into the steaming, soothing waters of a hot spring in the awe-inspiring shadow of Mount Fuji.
There are two kinds of bathhouses in Japan: sento and onsen. A sento is a kind of public bathhouse that became popular during the Japanese population boom of the 1960s. It’s essentially a place to purchase hot water and relax.
Onsen, on the other hand, are deeply associated with regional Japan. Japan’s countryside is famously dotted with natural
hot springs, geothermal heated pools of water. The water here reaches through cracks in the Earth’s crust and heats up. Some hot springs grow hot enough to boil an egg!
The Japanese tout the medicinal, healing, and relaxing properties of both the soothing hot spring water and the time-honored tradition of public bathing. In fact, the Japanese have been enjoying their hot springs for over one thousand years.
Maxis partnered with Deligracy to build Snowy Escape’s in-game onsen. Deligracy’s build is a stunning marriage of minimalist modern furnishings with traditional Japanese furnishings.
But maybe you want to build your own onsen once you’re able to play this expansion! Here are a few helpful tips and tricks.
1) Make your Onsen More than a Bathhouse
Deligracy’s build uses only base game and Snowy Escape build items. In addition to the hot spring and shower area, she’s included comfortable sitting areas and dining areas to boot.
To make this idea your own, consider this: travelers from all over the world congregate at Japanese bathhouses for a complete, relaxing experience. Many modern bathhouses offer spa services, steam rooms, hot stone massages, and even hair salons!
The Spa Day pack is a lovely choice for adding relaxing items to your onsen. Consider adding massage tables and chairs, a little Japanese restaurant nearby, and anything else that would soothe the weary traveler.
To keep your build authentic-looking, use tatami mats, sliding doors, and keep furnishings minimal.
The Nagomi no Yu spa in Tokyo offers onsen experience, sauna, and massages.
2) Keep or Ditch Gender Separation
Deligracy included gender-neutral doors in her build, a subtle and necessary nod to the changing times.
Traditionally, bathhouses still separate their bathing rooms in a bi-gender manner. When one enters a bathhouse, they’ll usually see two colored curtains indicating which gender should use which bathhouse entrance. Men use the blue-curtained door. Women use the red-curtained door. This is because women bathe with women while the men, in a separate bath, bathe with other men.
To make this idea your own, you may want to include the red and blue curtains for a more traditional set-up.
Of course, the Sims is a game well-equipped to throw away old-hat gender norms, so the choice belongs solely to the player!
Blue and red curtains with the kanji “men” and “women.”
3) Get Your Public Shower or Bath right
Before entering the hot spring, all patrons must shower first. This isn’t the quick rinse before jumping into a western pool, however. In Japan, people are expected to thoroughly bathe before entering the hot spring. Deligracy’s build includes a shower area with the traditional bathing stools and basins.
It’s considered rude to stand and shower in these bathhouses, so for more traditional gameplay, allow your Sims to sit down a while in the shower room. Sims with long hair should pin it up; it’s also considered rude for hair to touch the water.
To make this yours, be certain to use the special
shower provided in the pack, but consider including stations with complimentary hair accessories, blow dryers, soaps, shampoos, and other bathing accoutrements. After all, travelers need little more than a towel at these onsen; the rest is provided, often for free. Remove the partitions for a more traditional look. You might also include bathtubs or kake-yu, which are also common at traditional onsen.
The Japanese shower while sitting. They also use the basin for shaving.
Kake-yu: the bath before the bath.
4) The Hot Spring
Deligracy’s build features a snow-surrounded hot spring outside. Relaxing Sims may bathe, center themselves, and enjoy the view.
To make this look your own, consider building more than one spring, especially if you decide to separate your Sims by gender.
Traditionally, the Japanese do not wear towels in the spring. It’s considered rude to allow the towel to touch the water. Hopefully, this new expansion pack allows Sims to fold their towels on their heads the way the Japanese do:
Surround your hot spring with mountains, trees, and flowers. Include low-lighting for a rustic and peaceful atmosphere.
Modernize your onsen with concrete and clean, geometric lines:
There are many onsen from which a hopeful player may draw inspiration. Will you use Deligracy’s onsen? Will you renovate it? Will you build your own? Tell us in the comments!
Stay warm, and happy Simming.