My ORDINARY vol.2 ~Sento, Neighbour & Fizzy Drink~
My ORDINARY moment comes when I finish the last task at SEKAI HOTEL and set out to go to the Sento – a public bath.
I receive my towel at the SEKAI HOTEL front desk, walk through the nightly shopping street and am on my way. The Sento experience is not only about taking a bath to feel refreshed, but “going to the Sento” itself becomes a special moment.
Entering through the curtain and taking off my shoes, I see the familiar face of a neighbour. He is about to leave the Sento.
As soon as I open the door to the main area, I can sense every aspect of the Sento – the unique smell, the sound of a TV show. I say hello to the clerk and give him my ticket to enter.
Before entering the bath, I always feel that while the experience at the Sento is ORDINARY, it’s very special. Everything in here is so analogue, with old and inconvenient systems even though we are in an era where everything is easy to use and practical. But I feel so comfortable staying here.
Every Space in Sento Tells its Story
Every aspect of the dressing room is proof that it has lived for more than 5 decades. The locker keys, the water taps – everything is really old. None of the things are easy to use compared to today’s convenient and easy systems. But these elements are what represent Japan’s Showa era (1926 – 1989) and what make the Sento unique.
Sento Connects the Neighbours
After cleaning my body at the washing place with blue and red tiles, I jump into the big bath. I deserve this moment. Sinking into the hot water, the stress from my body and brain immediately releases.
I don’t even know why, but it is normal for Sento users to have a chat with people they don’t know the name of. “The water is boiling hot today” I murmur. “The other tub is better” says a random guy in the same bath tub. When I ask him to tell me about the good old times of this area, his stories go on forever.
The Sento and the neighborhood community seem to be deeply connected. It’s common knowledge between locals that the Sento is “a place to share”. This creates a close relationship between strangers. It is like children playing in the same sand pool and naturally talking to each other.
After refreshing mind and body at the Sento, nothing is better than having a cold drink. Sitting in one of the chairs, I cannot put any strength into my muscles and think “I want to go to bed”. My mind is empty at this moment, but the cold drink refreshes my thoughts.
Most people at the Sento would say it’s best to have the coffee-flavoured milk, but my favorite is the fizzy drink. It quenches my thirst with the bubbles and I love it. I enjoy my drink little by little and lounge around in my chair. The whole Sento experience releases the pressure that had built up inside of me and changes the rhythm of my daily life.
This is My ORDINARY.
Written by Koichi Yano