Water is an amazing, wonderful substance, isn’t it? It not only sustains life, but washes away grime and refreshes us, which leads to this post about the Japanese ofuro and waterfalls, cool fountains, and “living water.”
When I lived in Japan, I gained a great appreciation for the steaming hot water of the ofuro, a deep, wooden tub used for daily baths. After the first minutes (aka shock) of adjusting to the temperature, the water always proved a balm for tiredness. Not only that, but the warmth lingered even when I went outside in the winter. A mirror would show me that my face was almost as red as a lobster, but that was a small price to pay for tingling skin and relaxed muscles.
A far less common custom in Japan makes use of icy cold water. One of my friends told about standing under a waterfall for its sensation of cleansing, both physically and spiritually. Although there are many lovely Japanese waterfalls, you might guess that I bypassed that stimulating experience.
If you visit Dallas Baptist University, the sight of ponds and beautiful fountains, like the one in the photo, can make you feel a tiny bit cooler on a hot Texas day, and even more so if a breeze carries a little of the spray. Can you imagine the temporary relief? (Okay, really small and temporary.)
Fountains can also be reminders of the “living water” Jesus spoke about (John 4). Since His “living water” leads to a never-ending relationship with God—the Source of life and everything good, I’m sure we’d agree that nothing else, no matter how refreshing, can come close to that!
Still, the ofuro is part of a splendid custom that our American showers don’t quite match, and I miss it, especially after long days.
Have you experienced any out-of-the-ordinary customs that you sometimes miss? Please share if one comes to mind.