The highest complement paid to a woman when I was growing up was that you could eat off her floor. You could eat off my mother's floors. She was that neat and that organized that the house was always clean. Never a bug or cockroach! Never dishes left in the sink. So, I thought we were clean.
Then I lived in Japan. OMG. I found out that we weren't that clean really. The Japanese are probably the cleanest culture, and by comparison, I was truly a barbarian. First of all, there were shoes and slippers for every purpose. You never wore your outside shoes in the house. There was a place for them Scientists have recently published articles to encourage this kind of behavior because germs do get tracked into the house and all over the indoors. Then there were house slippers. Then there were special slippers for the water closet. Toilets and baths were in separate rooms and you never wore house slippers into the toilet room.
The bath! When we first tried to take a bath, my friend and I never thought we would be able to do it. The tub was filled to the top with boiling water. I mean boiling. So, we found our courage and toe by toe, went in. After a while, we became accustomed to it. Now, if I ever have a chance, I would love to have one again.
First, you wash yourself off before stepping into the tub. The water is kept for almost a week, covered to keep it clean, then heated for the bath. It is one of the most relaxing experiences. And warming, too. In the northern villages, people would go to the public baths, then go home in just a light robe. Unbelievable! They were not cold!
I remember baths when I was younger and still at my parent's home. I hated them. I could not fathom how you could wash off in the tub and then sit in your own dirt. I chose to take showers.
I still dream of my Japanese baths and long for the relaxation a truly clean and hot bath can give.