Let’s try Japanese bathing culture today with an ONSEN-SHU towel in hand!
Taoro is a traveler, bath fanatic, and writer. His hobby is collecting Onsen towels. After getting out the bath, he enjoys fruity milk.
ONSEN-SHUWash. Wring. Wipe.
Onsen towels were born out of Japan’s unique bathing culture. Calling these Onsen towels “ONSEN-SHU (Lands of Onsen) towels,” “ONSEN-SHU” is a project that aims to spread and tell the story of Japanese bathing culture through towels.
What are ONSEN-SHU Towels?
Onsen towels that have been made in Senshu region, the birthplace of Onsen towels.
“ONSEN-SHU towels”—ultrathin towels that can single-handedly perform all bath activities. You can rest assured of the towel’s size. It’s 100 cm in length and like an extended face towel. It easily reaches the back and can be properly wrapped around the head. The short pile of this towel, almost like a Tenugui (Japanese traditional hand towel), makes it easy to wring even when damp. This towel is ideal for wet use, such as quickly wiping off moisture and wringing it out.
What are ONSEN-SHU Towels?
Relax and learn
The Senshu area of Osaka has traditionally been a thriving cotton-growing area. An industry developed in which thread was made from cotton and used as fabric, and bleached cotton, otherwise known as Tenugui, were produced. In the Edo and Meiji periods, when there were no towels in public bathhouses and bathhouses, the use of Tenugui called “yokkin” was commonplace. Homes, of course, didn’t have baths, and houses with baths inside the houses having a bath, so-called “inner baths”, only began to be built in postwar apartment complexes.
Towels were imported into Japan at the beginning of the Meiji period. In documents from the time, it is written “hand, wipe, towel.” After years of pile fabric research, a pile weaving machine was developed in 1887. The first towel production in Japan began in present-day Izumisano city. Thin towels were introduced to the market as an alternative to Tenugui, and the custom of using towels became commonplace.
As the postwar reconstruction period came, the culture of entertainment such as recreation, sightseeing, and lodging began to spread, and travel became more common, more facilities started producing original towels bearing the name of “XX ONSEN” or “YY Ryokan,” and Senshu towel production grew dramatically. This marked the beginning of “Onsen towels.” With the passage of time, the use of Senshu towels rapidly extended to include commercial use.
Just about everyone has had the chance to hold one of these Onsen towels. Not only are they used wet with hot water in bathing areas, but recently some people use them to dry themselves off after getting out. More and more people are switching to Onsen towels from their home towels, as they find them more convenient than bulky bath towels. Compact, easy to wash, easy to dry, and taking up little storage space, these towels are excellent for light use.
Towels with border lines and the name of the facility, as often seen in bathing facilities. White all-pile towels are not marked, so it is difficult to tell which manufacturer they are from. Therefore, each manufacturer differentiated their towels by adding a border line using their own original weave structure. This border line is called "kaikiri" in the industry.
The 10 cm pile-free area at the edge of the towel is called the flat area. There are many theories, one of which is that the name placed on a clearly conspicuous flat surface, in hopes that it would serve as an advertisement. There is another theory that it started in the Edo period when Kabuki actors distributed Tenugui with their own original designs with their names on it. Although the Tenugui of those days has been replaced by towels, the custom of using towels with one's name on them as a greeting or as an original item at a Onsen hotel has been carried on to this day. Another theory is that the pile has been eliminated or reduced for ease of use, making it easier to tie and grip when using the towel in the bath. So which theory wins?
Senshu towels are produced using a technique in which a pattern that appears vague and faint comes to the surface clearly when wet. With this technique, known as “Senshu sukashiori,” the colored base yarns show through the white pile, so the towels look pale when dry, but when wet, the pattern becomes more distinct. Please enjoy the change in the bath.
the interesting things about Onsen towels.