Public hygiene in Japan is indeed remarkable! Japan is recognized as a country with the best reputation when it comes to cleanliness and hygiene. For example, even when without this COVID-19 pandemic, wearing a mask daily is their natural fashion.
With that cue, let us learn why Japan is giving much importance to public hygiene. Also, you can adapt their ways of hygiene to get away from the troublesome viruses. To sum up, you can benefit a lot from public hygiene in Japan, not only for yourself but you can also relay this information to your beloved family and dearest friends.
Why Do Japan Prioritize Hygiene?
- Prevent colds
At any time of the year, colds can occur. Colds are most common in the winter or rainy seasons in Japan or anywhere in the world. This cold virus can be spread through tiny, air droplets that are released when the sick person sneezes, coughs or blows their nose.
If a person with a cold sneeze, coughs, or blows their nose near you, you can catch a cold. Wearing a mask and having a tough immune system by thorough cleanliness can help you get away from these viruses.
- Infectious Diseases
Infectious diseases such as flu are commonly spread through the direct transfer of bacteria, viruses, or other germs from one person to another. When an individual with the bacterium or virus touches, kisses, or coughs or sneezes on someone who isn’t infected, the virus will be transmitted.
- Avoid causing trouble to other people
Japanese people believe that to avoid causing trouble to others such as illnesses, you need to have good hygiene. A clean and well-protected body indeed pushes the viruses away.
- Promotes Cleanliness
When someone sees a lot of people who have a good practice of hygiene, that makes him curious about his hygiene too. In that manner, he will start doing good hygiene in himself too. Thus, promotes cleanliness to others, good information.
Being hygienic means you are presentable. Being presentable turns out to be hospitable. Greetings are not the limit of Japanese hospitality, it shows in their hygiene too.
- Educate children
Educating their children about cleanliness runs from generation to generation. When you travel to Japan, you can see the discipline of hygiene in their children. That is because they were taught about cleanliness from preschool.
- Preventing food poisoning
Did you know that having a good practice of hygiene prevents food poisoning? Foodborne illness or food poisoning is an illness caused by eating contaminated food. The most common causes of food poisoning are infectious organisms — including bacteria, viruses, and parasites — or their toxins, transmitted through touch and orally.
- Deep-rooted custom – good hygiene, good reputation
It is said that the custom of being clean started because of Buddhism’s influence. Japanese people tend to clean themselves before going to the temple. For example, they bath at Sentos to make themselves clean.
Hygiene Ways in Japan
Bathing is for personal hygiene. It washes away dead skin cells, dirt, and soil. Bathing is also a preventative measure to reduce the incidence and spread of disease. Besides, it reduces body odors that cause trouble for other people.
Onsen, or hotspring in Japan is regarded as a relaxation place. However, an onsen is also a place to clean your body. The water from onsen promotes good health and stimulates cells which makes your skin look healthy too. For more information and tips about onsen, read our article “Hot Spring (Onsen) in Japan – Guide for Tourists“.
- Sento custom
Sento is a Japanese communal bathhouse. Please note that Sento and Onsen are different. Although they are both public bathhouses, Onsen uses natural hot spring water while Sento does not. Like Onsen, Sento is where you take a bath to clean your body and prevent illness.
Japanese people believe this is a divine pleasure, a good feeling for the body and soul and you will hear them say, “gokuraku, gokuraku”. Just wash before bathing, and follow the etiquette inside.
Students, workers, and family members from public places such as schools and offices have a natural habit to take a bath when they return home. Even in winter when the water is cold, they take a bath as if this is a natural thing to do. In that case, they use a heater to make the water not too cold and not too hot.
If you have unwashed hands, germs from them can be transferred to other objects, like handrails, tabletops, or toys. Then, germs from the unwashed hand can be transferred to another person’s hands. Therefore, you can help prevent diarrhea and respiratory infections by frequent right handwashing using the right soap.
Some Japanese singers composed songs to promote handwashing to everyone as they also believe that handwashing may even help prevent skin and eye infections.
Gargling with salt water has many benefits. For example, it neutralizes the acids in the throat caused by bacterias, maintains a pH level, clears nasal congestion, reduces the risk of respiratory tract infection, eases tonsillitis, eliminates bad breath, relief bleeding gums and toothache, and increases the process of healing mouth ulcer. Japanese people gargle whenever they come home from the outside.
4. Oshibori and wet wipes
Oshibori or hot towels are given when you enter a restaurant, ramen shops, and bar in Japan. This is used to clean your hands before eating. As a part of Japanese hospitality, Oshibori is indeed a part of Japanese hygiene.
There are two types of Oshibori, cold oshibori for summer and hot oshibori for winter. Some restaurants use wet wipes as an alternative to hot towels. These towels dampened with water and wrung are also usually given when ordering bento boxes.
A common thing with Japanese people is that they wear masks wherever they go. Mask is part of their fashion and personal hygiene as this can prevent illness too. Japanese people have a strong awareness to wear masks to avoid trouble for other people.
6. High-tech Toilets
Consider their high-tech toilets too. Japanese people use bidets with warm water to clean their bottoms. The gentle and comfortable bidets are addictive for other people.
To know more about public hygiene in Japan, read our article, “High-tech Toilets in Japan“!
Hygiene Education in Japan
Where does hygiene in Japan begin? National hygiene in Japan begins in the classroom. This is the reason why public hygiene in Japan seems so natural as if it is born with them.
So, what are equipment and practices you can expect the child can learn about hygiene and cleanliness from the classroom?
- Hygiene is emphasized in the health handouts given to the children. It says going to bed early, exercising regularly, and frequent handwashing.
- Gargle as soon as they get home.
- Handwashing facilities and stations such as sinks near the toilets, long sinks on the corridor of each building floor, and sinks on the schoolyard. These facilities have soaps too.
- Students are taught to wash their hands after going to the toilet, after lunch, after science experiments, and after recess. They wash their hands together.
- Carry handkerchiefs to dry their hands.
- Bring tissues and use them when blowing their noses.
- Eisei shirabi or hygiene check. They inspect weekly if students carry handkerchiefs, tissues, and if fingernails are clipped.
- Brush teeth three times a day.
Public hygiene in Japan teaches us to be mindful of our health and well-being. This also teaches us to care about others and not cause trouble for them. In this time of the pandemic, you may think that hygiene in Japan has many things to do, but there is nothing more important than having a healthy body and mind.
Take a bath, wash your hands, gargle up to your throat, wear masks, and maintain social distancing. Let us be healthy!