Dogo Onsen, Matsuyama, c. 1910
The Natural Sand Baths and Onsen, Beppu, c. 1910-1930
“The Japanese passion for bathing is proverbial. Perhaps the people of no other country are so fond of hot-water bathing as the Japanese, who make it a rule to get into a good hot bath in the evening or even in the morning, as not a few are accustomed to do.
“In the house of an average Japanese is a bath-room, whether it is large and elaborate or a mere apology for one. Those who are unfortunate enough to have no bath-room in their own house pay an almost daily visit to a public bath-house.
“So deeply indeed is the love of hot bathing implanted in the Japanese from their childhood that it is small wonder that the national sentiments on it are reflected in some of the verses, both poetic and unpoetic, folksongs, caricatures and so forth that have been handed down from olden days.
“Contrary to all European sanitary ideas, the Japanese like taking very hot baths of anything from 104 to 110 Fahrenheit. As a rule, they do not believe in bathing in moderately hot water which is so apt to give a chilly reaction. All Westerners, except those who are familiar with the life of the Japanese, are surprised to see them emerge from an extremely hot bath with their bodies red like a boiled octopus (which is the Japanese way of saying ‘red like a lobster’).”
– Hot Springs in Japan, Japanese Government Railways, 1936