Tuesday, 28 December 2010

The ground floor is being counted in Japan

Yesterday I went to visit a traditional Japanese public bathhouse. You know, we Germans really like to study the customs of other cultures. My Japanese friends had warned me not to go there alone, since it might be "chotto" difficult not to make a mistake, but I preferred to make a firsthand experience. Who would need a tour guide for such a simple thing like taking a bath ??

Well, when I entered the bathhouse, it was quite easy, you just remove your shoes at the place where you always remove your shoes and put them into the shoe locker. And after having paid the admission fee (on my own and without any assistance) I heard the attendant tell me it was "ikkai". Well, this was also easy, since ikkai means "first floor". I was wondering a little why the curtain was red before I went to the staircase, but I entered anyway and went upstairs. After two or three steps I saw some women coming down looking a little strange at me, but then I thought that they had gone in the wrong direction. Anybody can make a mistake, can t she?

But hardly 5 seconds later the manager came after me telling me I was wrong and showed me the right direction ... ... I was about to go into the women s section of the bath. While I was nearly as red as the curtain I had just parted I went through the men s section s blue curtain on the the ground floor. How embarrassing ... ...

But there was no fault on my side, I had been given wrong directions by a bad attendant, I thought. Only later did I learn from my Japanese friends that contrary to German habit in Japan the ground floor is being counted. So I was actually wrong since "ikkai" means ground floor in Japanese. How embarrassing ... ...

But everything is okay because on this occasion I learned a new word from my japanese friends: "HAZUKASHIIIIII ..."

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