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Japanese Public Bath

II. Listening Exercises

Listen to the conversation again by pressing the Play Audio button and read along with the conversation. This conversation deals with very traditional public baths, but these places have changed considerably over the years depending on location.

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Nate: Hey Phil: Have you ever been to a Japanese public bath? I hear it's quite an experience.

Phil: Yes, and what an experience.

Nate: What do you mean?

Phil: Well, it's nothing like visiting a swimming pool in the States.

Nate: Well, what do you do when you go to a public bath?

Phil: First, you take off your shoes before you enter.

Nate: Okay.

Phil: Then, you pay an entrance fee to the man or woman at the front counter. [Um-huh]. Next, you get undressed in the dressing room. And I was very surprised . . . and a little embarrassed to see that the woman who took my money was sitting on a platform where she had a clear view of the men's side of the dressing room. [Really?] This allows the workers to keep an eye on the patrons' belongings while they are in the bath.

Nate: Wow. And do you wear a bathing suit or something?

Phil: Oh no! You don't wear anything. Then you go into the main bathing area and wash your body while sitting on a small stool about 40 centimeters high.

Nate: On a stool!?

Phil: Yeah. It was really hard getting used to bathing in that position. Sometimes, even, people wash each other's backs.

Nate: Oh really. So, what do you do after that?

Phil: Well, after you've rinsed off all the soap, they usually have two or three large baths where you can soak for a while.

Nate: Do you actually share the bath with other people?

Phil: Yeah. Traditionally, the bath played an important role in the community. It gave neighbors an opportunity to socialize while bathing.

Nate: Huh. Interesting.

Phil: When you're all done bathing, people relax in the dressing room by watching TV, drinking tea or juice, or talking to friends. It's quite an experience.

Key Vocabulary [Top]

  • platform (noun): a raised area where you can sit
    - The members of the local government were sitting on a platform overlooking the audience.

  • clear (adjective): not blocked or covered
    - Once the table is clear of dishes, we will start the game.

  • patron (noun): customer or visitor
    - Patrons are asked not to eat or drink in the art gallery.

  • belongings (noun): possessions
    - Please do not leave your belongings unattended while in the amusement park.

  • stool (noun): a small chair often made of wood or plastic
    - The young boy sat on a stool as he shined my shoes.

  • rinse (off) (phrasal verb): remove soap or dirt from something using water
    - Please rinse off before you get in the swimming pool.

  • soak (soak): leave something in water or other liquid for a period of time
    - I enjoy soaking in the tub to relax and forget about the worries of the day.

  • socialize (verb): to talk to or associate with others in a friendly manner
    - I'm having a pool party this weekend as a way of socializing with some of new neighbors.

Vocabulary Activities [Top]

Now, do these exercises to review the vocabulary. Then, return back to the Post-Listening Exercise to use the vocabulary in real conversations.

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