Friday, October 8, 2010

Will Miss #241 - attitude toward (same gender) nudity

One of my students had foreign guests visit her family and they went to an onsen. The foreign couple refused to take part with her family when visiting the hot springs even though it was all women in one pool and all men in a completely separate one. My student couldn't understand their squeamishness, and asked me why they wouldn't join them. I told her that we have a lot of shame in connection to the naked body and its imperfections, even when revealing it to people of the same gender. The Japanese don't seem to hold bodies to the same impossible standards that Americans do, and have a more relaxed and balanced notion of what a body should look like.

I will miss the lack of shame most Japanese people feel about the human body and their lack of self-consciousness about revealing their (quite natural and usual) imperfections to perfect strangers of the same gender.