Fire Baths and Villains 五右衛門風呂

Makoto has been enjoying watching
となりのトトロ tonari no totoro (My Neighbor Totoro)
over and over again.* It is a famous anime that you can buy in the States on DVD through Disney. It is set in rural Japan some time in the fifties or sixties.

Yumi mentioned the atmosphere of the movie reminds her of her childhood. For example, the scene at the train station feels like it is the big city while home is utterly in the country with no easy way of getting around.

The thing that shocked me was she also mentioned, like in the movie, they used to take weekly baths heated by fire. She swears they had electricity and running water, but, still, they had a bath heated by fire.

Which leads to an interesting vocabulary word.

五右衛門風呂
goemon buro
a bath heated directly on a fire

I can’t say this is very useful in the 21st century, but the term for a bath heated by fire is named after a thief (Ishikawa Goemon) whose punishment was to be boiled to death in such a bath. Pleasant isn’t it?

“Mommy must I take a Goemonburo?”
“Yes, dear.”

“Ok. I’ll get in. By they way, why do they call it ‘Goemonburo’?”
“Oh, that’s because a villain named Goemon was boiled to death in a furo just like the one you are in.”

“…”


* and over and over and over again.

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