Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Asian Studies

Reader 1

Lynne Miyake

Reader 2

Albert Park

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© 2013 Adam M. Merry


Steeped in tradition for over a thousand years, bathing culture in Japan remains relevant due to the preservation of the traditional, innovative modernization of existing bathing structures, and the diversification therein. This thesis will examine the significance of bathing culture, focusing largely on onsen and sento, account for its historical evolution, analyze how it functions in modern society and forecast its future viability. More specifically, the concept that Japan's vibrant bathing culture was able to flourish due to mythological creation stories, politically motivated access to baths, propagated therapeutic value, and scientific reinforcement of the benefits of a hot bath will be explored.