Word of the Week: 裸の付き合い

It’s time for Word of the Week again! Last time we looked at a Japanese word or phrase beginning with ‘no’ (の), and focussed on the word 飲みニケーション (nominication), meaning ‘communication through drinking’. This week I’m looking for a word or phrase beginning with ‘ha’ (は). A big thank you to the one person who joined in with their suggestion this week (where has everyone else gone?):

Japan Australia suggested ‘hayakuchi kotoba’ (早口言葉), Japanese tongue twisters; and ‘hana yori dango’ (花より団子), a Japanese proverb which means ‘to prefer substance over style’.

These were great ideas, but I have a different idea for this week…

裸の付き合い

(hadaka no tsukiai)

‘Hadaka no tsukiai’ (裸の付き合い / はだかのつきあい) means ‘naked communion’ or ‘naked friendship’. Don’t worry, this isn’t some kind of dodgy post about sex… it’s about onsen!

Hot spring in Hakone

A shared hot spring bath in Hakone

In Japan, it’s customary to bathe in shared baths (sento / 銭湯 or onsen / 温泉), and this is almost always done in your birthday suit. To the Japanese, there is nothing unusual about getting your kit off and jumping in the bath together, although it makes a lot of tourists (myself included) blush. Japanese families bathe together, friends bathe together, even colleagues bathe together, and while they bathe they chat. Conversations could be on any topic, from local gossip to politics, religion to fashion, but the important thing is that once you are scrubbed clean of daily life and soaking in the bath, you are naked, and so is your friendship. All barriers are broken down once you are naked, and it should be a good chance to relax and talk opening and honestly with one another.

Hadaka no tsukiai

Hadaka no tsukiai

(Image source)

As a foreigner (and a British one at that!), I find the idea of bathing naked with my family, friends and colleagues quite bizarre, and I can’t imagine feeling relaxed enough to have any kind of conversation, let alone an open and honest one. But it seems to work for the Japanese, and many people who come to live in Japan or just visit Japan do grow used to the idea of naked communal bathing. During my recent trip to Japan I did go in a couple of shared baths, and I grew to like the heat and how relaxing they were, but I didn’t manage to strike up any conversations with anyone (and in fact managed to mostly avoid people!).

What do you think? Have you experienced ‘hadaka no tsukiai’? I read this great post from a guy called Daniel Moore who has clearly got the hang of naked friendship. He said that ‘hadaka no tsukiai’ had reminded him of the need to be more ‘naked’ in his own friendships. He says: “It’s easy for me to coast along, never digging deeper or having challenging conversations. But those are the conversations that matter the most and I want to value the people I can have them with. Friendship takes longer in Japan but lasts for a lifetime. With old friends and with new, those are the types of friendships I want to intentionally cultivate and invest into.” I couldn’t agree more!

☆★☆

Next week’s post will be about a word or phrase beginning with ‘hi’ (ひ), so please leave your suggestions below. The word can be a verb, adjective or expression, but no nouns please! For example, ‘himana’ (ひまな) meaning ‘free’, ‘not busy’ would be acceptable, but ‘Hiroshima’ (広島), the place, would not. I look forward to reading your ideas! (*^_^)v

Word of the Week 2014

3 thoughts on “Word of the Week: 裸の付き合い

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