お風呂 (ofuro)

When I lived in Japan, getting into the hot tub (ofuro) was a nightly ritual. Sometimes, I would get the honor of being the first to go, which was pretty sweet, since the whole family used that thing and there would be unsightly human detritus floating around if you happened to be last.

The first thing you do is get into the washing area and rinse off. After you're reasonably clean, you get into the tub, unroll the bamboo cover so only your head is seen sticking out, and pleasantly steam for as long as you like. Okaasan (mom) explained that it helps you sleep at night. It's so true! Your muscles relax and stuff. Also, homes in Japan usually have no central heating, so there's a big advantage to being superheated right before getting into the futon.

After I moved into my first studio, I made it a habit to have a hot bath whenever I feel tired or stressed. Now I take a hot bath every night, if I'm not home too late. It's become inconceivable to read a book while not submerged in piping hot water.

Sheba's braved the edge of the tub with her two front paws, once when she was extra needy. Naturally, she ran out of the bathroom after she saw all the water. She doesn't know what she's missing!

One day I would like to try nature's hot tub -- hot springs -- preferably in some ridiculously cold European country, like Norway or Romania. Or Russia. That would be sweeeeeet!