Japan’s shared baths also mean shared changing rooms, so do women also take in the view of bras and panties?
Communal bathing has long been a part of Japanese culture, most notably at onsen hot spring resorts. The opulence of the facilities varies by location, but in general bathers follow the same procedure.
After paying your entrance fee at the bathhouse’s entrance, you make your way to a gender-segregated changing area, undress, and head into the bathing area, where you wash your body thoroughly before finally stepping into a shared tub for a hot, relaxing soak. However, there’s apparently an additional step in the process that some Japanese women follow: checking out the lingerie of their fellow hot spring visitors.
▼ A typical onsen changing room
Japanese intimate apparel maker Wacoal, as part of its ongoing bra and panty-related survey series, recently asked “When you’re undressing/dressing at a hot spring or other shared changing room, do you end up checking out the lingerie of your friends or strangers?” Out of the 6,169 responses, 62 percent said “Yes.”
Many said they steal a glance out of an interest in fashion. Whereas they can get a feel for popular outer garment trends whenever they’re out in public, an onsen changing room provides a rare opportunity to see what sort of lingerie other women choose for themselves, leading to comments such as:
“I’m really curious about the lingerie designs and colors that women in my age group wear.”
“I check my own lingerie against the styles that other women about my age have on.”
“I want to see if people wear matching bra/panty sets, or if they mix them up.”
“When there’s a beautiful, stylish woman in the changing area, I can’t help wanting to see what kind of lingerie she has.”
“If I see my friend has on a cute set, I always ask her which brand it is.”
Others’ eyes were drawn by a desire to see an ordinarily hidden facet of a person’s aesthetic tastes.
“It’s interesting to see how some people have really different fashion senses for the style of outer clothing and lingerie they wear.”
“A surprisingly large number of quiet, prim and proper women wear incredibly flashy lingerie.”
“When I see an old granny wearing cute, lacy lingerie, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy.”
“If I spot a young woman wearing really plain underwear, it makes me feel sad.”
Of course, women who sneak a peak at others’ lingerie know that they’re probably not the only ones who do so, leading one to comment “I check out other people’s lingerie, and I think some of them are probably doing the same to me, so I make it a rule never to wear old, beat-up lingerie to the hot spring.”
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he thinks that not wearing old, beat-up underwear is sound advice in just about every situation.
[ Read in Japanese ]