top of page
  • Writer's pictureHaley

Bathhouse Culture: The Power of Water & How It Connects Us

The power of water connects us all! Water has been used for centuries across the globe for bathing, relaxation, meditation, and physical therapy. Find out why Hydropool North West believes so strongly in hot water immersion by reading about several cultures that still use hydrotherapy to this day!


SCANDI BATHHOUSE CULTURE

Scandinavian bathhouse culture is a centuries-old tradition stemming from the region's climate. Saunas are the centrepiece of this culture. Saunas are used for both physical and spiritual cleansing, and are often depicted as a way to connect to nature and oneself.


Bathing is one of the main purposes of a sauna. Saunas are typically heated with wood, and get very hot. People typically start by sitting in the hot humid air, then cool off in a cold shower, or jump in a lake. Pools are often found in public saunas, as they can be a popular way for people to cool off after spending time in the hot air. The process of heating and cooling off the body is repeated several times, and it is said to have a number of health benefits, including reducing stress, improving circulation, and boosting the immune system.


Saunas are found all over Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and in other countries the world over. Saunas are typically seen as a spa treatment in non-Scandi countries but are a daily habit in Scandinavian countries.


  • The word "sauna" comes from the Finnish word "sauna", which means "bath" or "sweating room".

  • There are over 3 million saunas in Finland, which is one for every two people!



SLAVIC BATHHOUSE CULTURE

Slavic bathhouse culture is very similar to Scandi bathhouse culture. The banya (banja, bania, sauna) is also the centerpiece of this culture. Banyas can be a great way to connect with friends and family, or simply to enjoy some peace and quiet.


In Slavic cultures, it is common for people to visit the banya several times a week, both alone and with friends or family. In addition to bathing, banyas are also used for a variety of other purposes, such as socializing, relaxation, and physical therapy. They are a popular place for people of all ages to gather and enjoy the benefits of the hot air and water.


Banya uses a different heating method than sauna. Typically, a sauna uses dry steam where the hot stone is kept exposed on an open stove, occasionally splashing stones with water for a steam release. A Banya uses a steam bath technique. The hot stones are kept hotter inside a closed stove. There are small openings that let steam exit the stove gradually for higher humidity. Although banya and sauna share the same temperature, due to higher humidity, the banya will feel hotter to visitors. To prevent your head from overheating, you wear a felt hat during a banya session. The hat keeps your head temperature low during the bath.



  • The word "banya" comes from the Slavic word "baniti", which means "to wash" or "to cleanse".

  • Bathhouses have existed in Slavic cultures since 4th Century BCE





JAPANESE BATHHOUSE CULTURE

Bathhouses, known as "sentō" or "onsen," are places where people can go to bathe, relax, and socialise. They are often seen as a way to cleanse the body and mind, and they are believed to have a number of health benefits. Japanese bath house culture extends to the home, where you may see a traditional cedar tub in a room separate from the toilet or shower.


Sentō are public bathhouses that are typically found in neighbourhoods. They are usually small and simple, with a large bath area, a shower area, and a dressing room. Onsen, on the other hand, are natural hot springs that are often located in rural areas. They can be large or small, and they may offer a variety of amenities, such as pools, saunas, and restaurants.


In both sentō and onsen, people bathe naked. This is seen as a way to cleanse body and spirit, and it is also a way to promote social equality. There are a few rules that people must follow when bathing in a Japanese bathhouse, such as washing thoroughly before entering the bath, not talking in the bath area, and not using soap in the bathwater.


Japanese bathhouse culture is a unique and fascinating aspect of Japanese culture. It is a way for people to relax, socialise, and connect with their bodies and their community.


  • The earliest known bathhouses in Japan were built in the Nara period (710-794 CE), and they were often associated with temples and shrines.

  • Today, there are over 100,000 bathhouses in Japan.



KOREAN BATHHOUSE CULTURE

Jjimjilbang are large, public bathhouses that offer a variety of amenities, including hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms, massage tables, and sleeping areas. Some "j-bangs" have movie rooms, barber shops, and even arcades. They are super communal, and usually quite inexpensive. They are a popular alternative to hostels.


Jjimjilbang are typically segregated by gender, with separate areas for men and women. The bathing areas are typically very large, with multiple hot tubs, saunas, and steam rooms. There are also usually showers, changing rooms, and lockers. Each jjimjilbang is unique in their range of offerings.


Many jjimjilbang are open 24 hours. This makes them a popular option for people who want to relax and unwind at any time of day or night. There are a few reasons for this! They are often used as a place to sleep. These bathhouses are popular with people who are traveling or who have missed the last train or bus home. jjimjilbang are a popular place to socialise. Often they have low entrance fees, snacks, drinks, and no time limits on entry. They are especially popular on weekends, when families and friends often go together. Jjimjilbang are also a popular place for people to go after a long day of work or school.


  • The word "jjimjilbang" comes from the Korean words "jjimjil", which means "to heat up", and "bang", which means "room".

  • Bathhouses existed in Korea as early as the 15th century.

  • There are 10,000+ j-bangs in Korea.



TURKISH BATHHOUSE CULTURE

Hammams are a centuries-old tradition deeply rooted in the country's history and culture. Hammams are public bathhouses that offer a variety of services, including bathing, massage, and skin treatments.


Hammams are typically divided into three rooms: a hot room, a warm room, and a cool room. People typically start in the hot room which houses a marble slab which guests lay on for a scrub and buff, then they move to the warm room for bathing, and then to the cool room for resting.


In addition to bathing, hammams also offer a variety of other services, such as massage, skin treatments, and hair removal. Like the rest of the bathhouse cultures mentioned, hammams bring family together to spend quality time. They are also used as community spaces for socialising.

  • There is evidence that hammams existed in the Middle East as early as 8th century CE

  • The first hammams were typically located in mosques and other religious buildings. They were used by Muslims for bathing and cleansing before prayer.




CLOSING THOUGHTS

Water is essential for life, and it has a powerful effect on the human body and spirit. It can cleanse, soothe, and invigorate, and it can also be a source of relaxation and peace. It has been proven to be a useful tool in cultures around the world for innumerable years.


On a physical level, water helps to regulate body temperature, remove toxins, and alleviate joint pain. It is also essential for the transportation of nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. On a spiritual level, water can be a source of renewal and transformation. It can help us to connect with our inner selves and with the natural world. It can also be a place to let go of stress and anxiety and to find peace and tranquility. It can bring us together and help us connect to one another.


There are many ways to experience the power of water. We can swim, bathe, or simply sit by a river or the ocean. We can also use water in our homes and gardens to create a sense of peace and serenity. No matter how we choose to experience it, water is a powerful force that can have a profound effect on our bodies and spirits.




bottom of page