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Hi Blog. My, my, how the worm turns. Check out how the International Terminal at Haneda Airport has gotten Tokyo bathhouses all abuzz about profit. All those customary fears about foreigners and their troublemaking ways (cf. the Otaru Onsens Case) simply evaporate when there’s the whiff of a tidal wave of tourist money to be had.
Come back foreigners, all is forgiven! Never mind about all the hand-wringing ten plus years ago, or about actually protecting them with any laws against potential refusals nationwide. This at places with owners who aren’t quite so magnanimous (or open-minded) at restaurants, hotels, etc. No doubt if there are any problems or outright xenophobia, it’ll be depicted as the foreigners’ fault all over again. Arudou Debito
Tokyo bathhouses scrub up to lure visitors
Yomiuri Shinbun, Oct. 22, 2010 Shinji Hijikata / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer, Courtesy of JK
Public bathhouses in Ota Ward, Tokyo, are bubbling with excitement at the prospect of a flood of foreign visitors the new-look Haneda Airport will bring.
Thursday’s opening of a new runway and terminal at Haneda make the airport an international hub, an opportunity the bathhouses hope will stop their business going down the drain.
The Ota public bathhouse association has made posters in four foreign languages, which explain local bathing manners, such as entering the bathtub after washing your body. It also plans to visit local public baths with foreign residents on Oct. 31–the day when regular international flights go operational at Haneda.
Factories and public bathhouses mushroomed in the ward during the postwar economic growth period. Although the number of public baths has declined to less than one-third of its peak, Ota Ward is home to 57 bathhouses–the most among Tokyo’s 23 wards.
Ota and its neighboring area have been known for the “kuroyu” hot spring, which has distinctive brown-black or topaz water. Ota also boasts of the most hot springs of the capital’s 23 wards, the majority of which are being tapped by public bathhouses.
Ota’s abundance of public baths and proximity to Haneda have given the association plenty of scope to target foreign customers. The illustrated posters will be put up at bathhouses in the ward to help foreign customers who are not familiar with Japanese bathing manners. Its member bathhouses have upgraded their Web sites to offer information in four foreign languages.
This month, the association started a stamp rally in which people who visit 20 of the ward’s bathhouses receive special furoshiki cloths with an illustration of Haneda and other gifts. On Oct. 31, 30 foreign residents of Ota Ward will join a walking tour that will take in public baths and other noted locations in the ward. The association hopes the foreign participants will pass on word of Ota’s bathhouses to people in their native countries.
Kazuyuki Kondo, chairman of the association and owner of Hasunuma Onsen, believes the increase in early-morning and late-night flights at Haneda could be just what the doctor ordered for bathhouses in the ward. Kondo said one man who recently planned to take an international flight came to his bathhouse late one night, saying, “I wanted to soak in a hot spring before my departure.”
Kondo, 59, said, “I want people to come to nearby hot springs and public baths instead of waiting [for their flights] at the airport.”
ポスター、イベント…外国客にＰＲ 自分がデザインした特製風呂敷を手にする近藤さん。国際化を控えた羽田空港も描かれている ２１日の羽田空港国際化を目前に控え、地元・大田区内の銭湯が、外国人客の誘致に
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/tokyo23/news/20101020-OYT8T00096.htm – 2010/10/20 00:00 – 別ウィンドウ表示
8 comments on “Yomiuri: Tokyo bathhouses scrub up to lure NJ visitors. My, how the worm turns. Why couldn’t they have done this ten years ago?”
Now, the question that remains is, will they allow foreign clientele with tattoos?
A bit off topic but I saw the Haneda Terminal Opening on one of the news channels here in Japan.
The hosts were really beating the ‘look at all the tourist foreigners arriving’ drum.
However 3 of the 4 ‘tourists’ I saw on the footage have been living in Japan for at least two decades each. I know 2 of them, the other I recognise. (I work for a foreign media outfit in Tokyo).
I’ll ask them when I see them next if they took advantage of a near by onsen, but somehow I doubt they did, or will in the future.
I guess the recent track record of Chinese tourists coming and spending a lot of money has people salivating. Far as I could tell most bath house operators were basically indifferent to foreign business because it wasn’t all that significant.
Aside from maybe flight crews and passengers bumped off flights, does any foreigner ever hang out and see the sights that happen to be near the airport?
Just more stupidity from the J government wasting money and effort on terribly misguided ineffective campaigns for tourism (telling that the only foreigners who’ll probably participate in this campaign are residents who live there already)
Just how senile does a retiree/amakudari tourism board member have to be to think, “Yes, tourists on vaacation in a foreign land will not only want the extremely unique experience of taking a bath with a bunch of old people they don’t know, they will want to do it near the airport instead of some scenic resort, and they will surely make time for it in their 3-day visit, definitely in the Top 5, right up there with Akihabara, shopping in Omotesando, Meiji Jingu, TokyoDisney, etc. Heck, they may even visit 20 baths if we promise them fabulous prizes, such as a free towel!”
And throw in ignorant enough to forget the joy of airport security. People can’t just pop out of the terminal for 45 minutes to take a bath and then waltz back to the gates just in time for boarding.
Compared to this, Aso’s manga museum idea seems positively genius.
Money talks I guess. It’s still gonna be the same old discrimination outside of Tokyo though.
Quote: “Just how senile does a retiree/amakudari tourism board member have to be to think, “Yes, tourists on vaacation in a foreign land will not only want the extremely unique experience of taking a bath with a bunch of old people they don’t know, they will want to do it near the airport instead of some scenic resort…”
Well, as long as you take your bath and leave the country “pronto” seems to be acceptable…
Yes, I saw also in NHK that Ooedo Onsen are promoting to attract foreigners. But as K-ren says, what is the attitude vis-a-vis tattoos? anyone has experinced an upgrade to modern times there?
I had a lot of confrontations in the past regarding this matter.
The Ooedo Onsen is awesome, and happens to have a ton of foreign visitors. I was surprised; it was the most foreigners (including some clear tourists) I have seen in an onsen or sento in Japan.
Re tattoos, I’m sorry but banning tattoos IS adapting to modern times. It’s discimination targeting gangsters and other undesirables, and I’m grateful since it’s the best argument to kids that they should stick with henna and avoid the real thing: no onsen, ever. If you don’t like it, zap it off. This is different from race, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, etc. – it is something you choose and can unchoose. You decided tattoos were more important than getting in to onsen; you can live with it or zap it. I don’t want to be bathing and worried about whether I will bump into some guy with neck to toe tattoos and end up in a ditch somewhere.