• 2016.03.01
  • Bathing in Italy
Just like Italians experience culture shock when coming to Japan, the bathrooms in Italy may be one of the first things that cause culture shock for a Japanese person.The first thing that would surprise you when coming to Italy is that most houses here have no bathtub. Not only in ordinary homes but even in hotels, bathtubs are not necessarily a given.


photo by Manami Takahashi

Although there are some houses with a bathtub, either way it’s not a big deal for Italians. And they have no custom of filling a bathtub with hot water and taking a relaxing bath in it. So even if there was a bathtub, I assume that most people only use it to take a shower in.

Obviously, they don’t have a bathtub reheating system like the ones in Japan, and I’ve yet to see a temperature control function here.

One of the reasons why is that Italy is not humid like Japan. Although it can get very hot in the summer, it’s dry and quite pleasant, and you don’t sweat that much.

Their timing when it comes to taking a shower is not like coming home and then cleaning up and relieving fatigue before going to bed, but more like getting off of work and then taking a shower to clean up before going to enjoy a night out with friends or a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Especially during the cold winter, I would think about wanting to soak in a bathtub, but the idea doesn’t even cross people’s mind here even if they do have a tub in the house.

The fact that the water here is hard may have a part, and because the hair texture of Italians is fine, airy and silky, their hair doesn’t feel icky or cause discomfort even if they don’t wash it every day. My hair texture changed after coming here too, probably because of washing my hair with hard water every day.

Currently, I rent a studio apartment and live by myself, but when I first came, I used to share a place with a few foreigners and I’ve also rented a room in the house of an Italian family, so I experienced a lot more things back then.

One time when I was living with a Neapolitan family, although their house had a bathtub, they asked me not to fill it with hot water because of the water bill, and they indirectly told me to save on the energy bill as well by saying that washing my hair every day would damage it. They also asked me to put out the laundry because they’ll do it in one batch once a week, but that was likely to reduce the water bill too. (Water and other utility costs are definitely expensive in Italy.)

I’ve moved so many times since coming here that I lost count, but I feel that that Neapolitan family was not especially stingy. I was only at that house for three to four months due to work reasons, but it was a nice, pleasant family, being Neapolitans, who had cheerful and kind personalities.

Generally speaking, I feel that water features in Italy are simply not good. The water from the shower is weak. The hot water is cold despite being turned all the way hot. The temperature of the water suddenly drops and rises during a shower. The shower has no hose and is fixed high on the wall. How am I supposed to wash my lower body? There is a bathtub, but the hot water in the water tank runs out before the tub is full and then you get only cold water. Hot water runs well, but the drain pipe often gets clogged causing flooding to the floor. These are just a few, and countless other things have happened to me. My current problem tormenting me is that the house has a sauna and a jacuzzi, but there is no bathtub.

Since I travel everywhere throughout the year and sleep in hotels or other people’s homes more often than my own place, I’ve become accustomed to bathing here in Italy and everything feels normal now. Still, the Japanese are considered the world’s most bath-loving people, and I can’t help but yearn for a life with a bathtub!


  • Mirai Tsuda
  • JobAIS sommelier (Italy’s national qualification for sommeliers),Wine Journalist

Since acquiring the qualification as a sommelier, I have been visiting some 200 wineries each year. My goal is to share the fascinations of Italy to the people of Japan by holding wine seminars as well as writing about wine and Italian cuisine.

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