I was 20 the first time I was invited to get naked in the company of other men. I was in Fukuoka, Japan, accompanying my parents to a conference, and we had been invited to a fancy dinner by the professor who was hosting us.
Before the formal kaiseki meal, our host and his colleagues – nearly all of whom were men – planned to bathe together before changing into bathrobes for the meal. Apparently it’s customary to chillax in the hot tub before an umpteen-course meal, and donning a yukata (a thin robe) afterwards means it’s easier to loosen than your pants as your stomach distends.
But when we were asked to arrive early for a dip, my father and I exchanged a quick glance of terror. We hadn’t shared a bath since I was a toddler, and it definitely didn’t seem the ideal time to start, let alone strip off in front of a dozen or so strangers. Continue Reading →