I. Pre-Listening Exercises [Top

Name two customs or traditions visitors to your country may have difficulty adjusting to. As part of this discuss, talk about any points that visitors should be aware of when staying as a guest at a home in your country.

HELPFUL TIP: When visiting a home in another country, be sure to find out the expectations for using bathrooms. When and how you use the shower or bath can be different from culture to culture.

II. Listening Exercises [Top]

I. Listen to the conversation by pressing the “Play” button of the audio type you want to hear, and answer the questions. Press the “Final Score” button to check your quiz.

1. What is the first thing you do when visiting a Japanese public bath?

A. pay the entrance fee

B. take off your shoes

C. put your clothes in a locker
2. What surprised Phil when he went to the bath?

A. The entrance fee was expensive.

B. People sit down when they bathe.

C. The attendant could see him undressing.

3. What do you wear when bathing?

A. a swimming suit

B. shorts

C. nothing

4. Traditionally, the bath was a place where people could:

A. socialize with their neighbors.

B. make informal business deals.

C. find marriage partners for their children.

5. What do people sometimes do after their bath?

A. watch videos

B. drink something, like tea

C. play Japanese chess with friends

Score =

Correct answers:

Nate: Hey Phil: Have you ever been to a Japanese public bath? I hear it’s quite an experience.

Phil: Yes, and what an experience.

Nate: What do you mean?

Phil: Well, it’s nothing like visiting a swimming pool in the States.

Nate: Well, what do you do when you go to a public bath?

Phil: First, you take off your shoes before you enter.

Nate: Okay.

Phil: Then, you pay an entrance fee to the man or woman at the front counter. [Um-huh]. Next, you get undressed in the dressing room. And I was very surprised . . . and a little embarrassed to see that the woman who took my money was sitting on a platform where she had a clear view of the men’s side of the dressing room. Really? This allows the workers to keep an eye on the patrons’ belongings while they are in the bath.

Nate: Wow. And do you wear a bathing suit or something?

Phil: Oh no! You don’t wear anything. Then you go into the main bathing area and wash your body while sitting on a small stool about 40 centimeters high.

Nate: On a stool!?

Phil: Yeah. It was really hard getting used to bathing in that position. Sometimes, even, people wash each other’s backs.

Nate: Oh really. So, what do you do after that?

Phil: Well, after you’ve rinsed off all the soap, they usually have two or three large baths where you can soak for a while.

Nate: Do you actually share the bath with other people?

Phil: Yeah. Traditionally, the bath played an important role in the community. It gave neighbors an opportunity to socialize while bathing.

Nate: Huh. Interesting.

Phil: When you’re all done bathing, people relax in the dressing room by watching TV, drinking tea or juice, or talking to friends. It’s quite an experience.

Key Vocabulary [Top]
  • platform (noun): a raised area where you can sit
    – The members of the local government were sitting on a platform overlooking the audience.
  • clear (adjective): not blocked or covered
    – The members of the local government were sitting on a platform overlooking the audience.
  • patron (noun): customer or visitor
    Patrons are asked not to eat or drink in the art gallery.
  • belongings (noun): possessions
    – Please do not leave your belongings unattended while in the amusement park.
  • stool (noun): a small chair often made of wood or plastic
    – The young boy sat on a stool as he shined by shoes.
  • rinse (off) (phrasal verb): remove soap or dirt from something using water
    – Please rinse off before you get in the swimming pool.
  • soak (soak): leave something in water or other liquid for a period of time
    – I enjoy soaking in the tub to relax and forget about the worries of the day.
  • socialize (verb): to talk to or associate with others in a friendly manner
    – I’m having a pool party this weekend as a way of socializing with some of new neighbors.