While writing my onsen guide, I noticed that you have a lot of questions about the Japanese bathing culture in general. One of your most commonly asked questions was “How often do Japanese bathe?” or “Is it true that Japanese bathe daily?“. So I took the time to translate the results of 5 bathing surveys and I also asked my Japanese friends how often they take a bath.
How often do Japanese bathe? Bathing surveys conducted in Japan show that the majority of Japanese bathe daily. The exact number varies per survey but usually, around 70% of Japanese take a bath every day and more than 15% bathe 3 to 6 times a week. While the number of Japanese that don’t soak at all is less than 5%.
These percentages are just a rough summary of the 5 Japanese surveys I used as a reference for this article. Below you will find the exact numbers of how often Japanese take a bath and more details about the study to get a better picture of their accuracy and significance. I will also tell you how often my Japanese friends bathe. Even though I know that this is not representative at all, I thought it is nice to have a real-life example, too.
5 Survey Results: How Often Do Japanese Bathe?
In order to come up with a representative number of how often Japanese bathe, I tried to find 5 different Japanese studies or surveys. The sources I am using as a reference were the top Google results when searching for terms like “How often do Japanese take a bath?” or “Do Japanese take a bath daily?” in Japanese.
Before we get into the polls and the results a few quick notes, though. Each survey has been conducted in a different year and with a slightly different demography. The number of participants for each survey also varies greatly. So the average I give you is not the exact percentage. Use this number to get a general idea of how often Japanese people take a bath per week.
Here’s an overview of the studies. I have also added the link to each website but before you click on them please remember that they are written in Japanese:
- Central Research Services: Conducted in 2004 with 2,000 people from all over Japan. The participants were at least 20 years old.
- Value Create: Conducted in 2013 with 1,159 participants in the 10 to 69 age group.
- Moratame: Conducted in 2016 with 1,200 members of the website. The respondents were 20 to 69 years old.
- Matome Naver: Last updated in 2017. Used a news article from the Japanese webpage excite as reference. Unfortunately, the original article has been deleted and so there’s no information about the demographics.
- Intage Gallery: Conducted in 2019 with 3,324 participants in the 20 to 69 age group.
So now let’s have a look at the results of each study.
71.38% of Japanese Bathe Daily
The oldest of the studies from 2004 says that 77.2% of Japanese bathe daily. It also broke down that 80.3% of Japanese women and 73.8% of Japanese men used to take a bath every day.
According to a newer poll of 2019, the numbers are way lower, though. In winter 62.6% of Japanese bathe daily, while in summer the number is only 39.0%.
- 77.2% (Central Research Service 2004)
- 76.4% (Value Create 2013)
- 75.5% (Moratame 2016)
- 77.0% (Matome Naver 2017)
- 50.8% (Intage Gallery 2019)
8.87% of Japanese Bathe 5-6 Times a Week
The studies from Matome Naver and Intage Gallery didn’t provide this option in their survey. That’s why I haven’t included them in this average.
- 5.4% (Central Research Service 2004)
- 10.7% (Value Create 2013)
- 10.5% (Moratame 2016)
- – (Matome Naver 2017)
- – (Intage Gallery 2019)
10.18% of Japanese Bathe 3-4 Times a Week
Even though the 2019 study showed that there is a big difference in the number of people that bathe daily in winter and in summer. The number of Japanese who bathe around 3-4 times a week is more or less the same throughout the seasons. 13.4% in winter and 12.8% in summer.
- 11.1% (Central Research Service 2004)
- 9.3% (Value Create 2013)
- 8.5% (Moratame 2016)
- 8.9% (Matome Naver 2017)
- 13.1% (Intage Gallery 2019)
5.12% of Japanese Bathe Less Than Twice a Week
Not all of the surveys were as detailed as others so I combined their numbers under this heading. The 2004 study, however, says that 2.7% of Japanese bathe twice a week, 1.6% bathe once a week, and only 2.0% hardly ever use their bathtub for a soak.
Moratame has a more detailed graph, too. But since there are no numbers, I can only guess the percentage. In the survey from 2016, it looks like that around 2% of Japanese bathe once or twice a week, 1% bathe once a week, and 0.5% rarely soak at home.
- 6.3% (Central Research Service 2004)
- 3.6% (Value Create 2013)
- 5.5% (Moratame 2016)
- 3.5% (Matome Naver 2017)
- 6.7% (Intage Gallery 2019)
I Asked My Japanese Friends How Often They Bathe
Considering the results of all 5 surveys, I think we already have a pretty good idea of how often Japanese people take a bath. But still, I was curious to ask my Japanese friends. Even though this number might not be as representative as the results of a large-scale study, I can at least promise you that the number is real.
So I asked 20 of my Japanese friends and their family how often they take a bath. 10 of them were women and 10 of them were men. The youngest one was 12 years old while the oldest one was in their 80ies.
18 out of the 20 people I asked bathe daily. One of my friends doesn’t take a bath every day, because he prefers a quick shower after his workouts. My other friend has gotten used to showering in the morning when she was living abroad. She likes showering because it is quick and easy, but in winter she usually takes a bath.
When I was traveling through Japan for 7 months and lived with Japanese and Japanese host families from different prefectures, I noticed the same thing. Nearly all of them used to bathe daily. Especially for the families, it was some kind of evening ritual.
Why Most Japanese Bathe Every Day
I feel like answering this question should be a post on its own. There are actually a lot of cultural and traditional reasons why Japanese tend to bathe every day and also why they bathe at night instead of in the morning.
So here in this article let’s just discuss the 3 most common reasons why Japanese people like to take a bathe every day.
Even today bathing is not so much about cleansing your body, but about refreshing your body and your mind. So most Japanese like to bathe daily to wash away the stress of their busy day at work and to recover from fatigue.
Another common reason for soaking in the bathtub is relaxation. The hot bath water helps to relax any worn-out and tired muscles, but the floating feeling in the water also helps with the relaxation of the mind. Most Japanese don’t do anything specific while bathing. They just soak and enjoy the warmth and quietness until they feel fully relaxed.
Last but not least a lot of Japanese like to take a bathe every day because of the health benefits. The soak in the hot tub will warm up your whole body and speed up its blood circulation. So more oxygen is carried to your internal organs and your metabolism is enhanced.
Do Japanese take a bath in the morning? While a lot of Japanese also tend to take a shower in the morning, I don’t know of anyone who bathes in the morning. In Japan, it is culture and tradition to take a bath in the evening. You soak away all the stress of the day and go to bed with a clean, refreshed body and mind.
Why do Japanese share bath water? In Japan, the bathwater is not for cleansing your body, it is for soaking. Washing your body and washing your hair is done before entering the bathtub. That’s why even though the bathwater is shared by different people, it stays clean and can be enjoyed by the whole family.
How often should you bathe when going to an onsen? Most onsen guides recommend a maximum of 2 to 3 baths per day. When you are staying at an onsen ryokan or visit an onsen town it might be tempting to bathe more often. However, staying hydrated and taking a rest in between baths is important. That’s why you shouldn’t take more than 3 onsen baths a day.