The bath, it talks to you. Press a button. Hear the nice lady’s flowery voice. Look closely inside the tub and wait for the first splash of water to spout out the side drain - or you know, that round metal thing that monitors the water level, what’s it called?
And then, ta-da, like in some unscripted performance piece, the bath starts filling up on its own. Just like that. Leave them taps alone!
Initially, I was just going to use the shower head, but my host highly recommended a soak in the small but deep tub - like a little cocoon. Says it’s relaxing.
I feel the warm water lapping over my toes, and wait for it to rise up higher, so that I’m leaning back, enveloped in a liquid warmth. Stillness, transparency, skin that’s rid of all trace of shivers: a calming mind.
In that moment, I suddenly remember passages from In Praise of Shadows, a book we were required to read in our first year of university as part of the Liberal Studies course. I recall the talk of light and dark, translucent panels, the spare quality of an unadorned room, the serenity of it all.
And a word I can’t remember - like the balance between showing too much, and too little, light and shadow, the disguise that dissimulates enough.
I feel like I am recognising something I had only previously known through a description - and it is in praise of that description that upon embodying that experience, you recognise the exact sentiments conveyed in the text. And know that they are true, and that you have the privilege to be privvy to that truth.
My Japanese bathtub experience lets me get back to the basics of self: a body in a room, and quiet thoughts that try not to rumble, too fast or too far away from where they originated.