vol04/歴史から紐解く湯の多様性 Revealing the Complex Meanings of Japanese Hot Springs vol04/歴史から紐解く湯の多様性 Revealing the Complex Meanings of Japanese Hot Springs
温泉文化史の面白さを探る Exploring History of Hot Spring Cultures! 温泉文化史の面白さを探る Exploring History of Hot Spring Cultures!


Drinking Hot Springs!? Let's Explore Its History with the Jinbunchi Communicator Sachiko Kawai!

Revealing the Complex Meanings of Japanese Hot Springs
河合佐知子 人文知コミュニケーター(人間文化研究機構 国立歴史民俗博物館)
Sachiko Kawai, Jinbunchi Communicator
National Institutes for the Humanities/National Museum for Japanese History


When you hear "hot springs" (onsen), what do you imagine? Relaxing, merry, manjū (sweet buns famous at hot spring resorts), trip, warm steam, soothing ...? For many of us, hot springs might conjure up fun and relaxing feelings. Is such an onsen image unique to modern Japanese society, or is it universal? Well, we don't even know whether Japanese people about 100 or 200 years ago had the same feelings about hot springs.


In fact, Japan has a centuries-old history of hot spring culture. By unraveling it, we might be able to make new discoveries. In this article, I would like to explore roles, usages, values of hot springs with you, as well as their diverse and complex aspects that are interesting but not well known.


In the past two years, we have been swayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Every time we heard something like, "if you try this, you'll recover," or "this will protect you from the virus," we have been all ears. We humans have been struggling against illness since the distant past. A long time ago, when there were no vaccines or medical cocktails to cure diseases, one of the things that inspired people was a natural spring that gushed from the ground. In this article, including pictures and videos, I would like to introduce Japanese hot spring culture's little-known aspect—drinking hot springs to cure illness—by providing some medieval examples.

*伊藤克己「江戸時代の「飲泉」」『温泉の文化誌: 論集 温泉学1』日本温泉文化研究会編 岩田書院(2007), 271-315
This article was inspired by an article written by Katsumi Itō,* the head of the Research Association for Japanese Hot Springs and Cultures. He also gave me valuable suggestions, and it was great help.
Itō Katsumi. "Edo jidai no insen." In Onsen no Bunkashi, edited by Nihon onsen bunka kenkyūkai, 271-315. Tokyo: Iwata Shoin, 2007.

1. オープニング—私たち、今どこに来ているでしょうか?—
Introduction: Guess Where We Are

ビデオ1(ここはどこ?Where Am I Now?)
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