Japanese Kotowaza – Karasu no gyouzui-
I was on my bike and waiting for a traffic light. It was a cloudy day and was raining during the morning. So there were many puddles on the streets. And in one of those, there was a big grey and black crow, splashing the water.
A Japanese kotowaza (諺 / saying) crossed in my mind.
"Karasu no gyouzui" (カラスの行水)
It describes a person who takes a bath rapidly. Japanese people are well-known as bath lovers who usually take a long time for a bath. For us it´s hard to imagine a house without a bathtub. Just like a Finish house without a sauna. I myself am the same, when I look for a flat or a room, unconsciously look for one with a nice kitchen and a bathroom – with a bathtub. Oh, this is another story anyway.
So if someone who doesn´t take time to bath, people say to that person "sore wa karasu no gyouzui desu ( それはからすの行水です)".
Japanese do believe that a quick bath is not so good. Most of the night, I go in the bath with a glass of water and a book. I don´t have such a fancy gadget like this, so I close a half of the top and put my book on top. Oh, I make sure the bath top is dry. Then I stay in the 42 C° hot water until I start feeling a little dizzy.
When I was little, I thought the hot bath was evil. It was too hot to enter to begin with. I would put my toe and especially in winter, as my toes were completely frozen, 40 C° water could feel like 80 C°. After repeating several times, dipped my toe in and out, eventually managed to enter my lower body. Pff, how hard to sink myself up to the chin.
In the hot water, some how I felt a lot of pressure. I always felt like out of oxygen. Then my parents would make me count 1 to 100. Actually, it´s really common in Japan that parents make their kids count big numbers. I think most of Japanese kids learn numbers in the bath. When I became a little older, my parents forced me to say the multiplication table, 1×1 to 9×9. Ohhhh, how painful it was!
I guess this is a trick to make kids stay in the bath as long as possible although for little ones, it´s just a torture. The heart starts beating toc toc toc with a full speed, the head becomes a little hazy and whole body turns to red like a boiled octopus.
But here is an interesting research of Japanese people which might change the image of Japanese being bath lovers. According to the article in gamenews, most of the Japanese people spend only 10-20 minutes in the bath. That´s not so long, they are actually doing Karasu no gyouzui. I know many westerns spend more than half an hour in the shower.
Crows aren´t popular birds. They are even considered as vermin in Japan as they open rubbish bags and sprinkle rubbish all over the streets. But actually they are very clean. They so love washing themselves that they even bath every day. The one I was watching on the street, he flew away each time someone passed by but came back to the puddle many times and continued bathing.
So Karasu no gyouzui isn´t a really appropriated saying for the honour of crows. Look at the video, this crow even takes a bath like a human.
Are you a long-bath person or a Karasu no gyouzui person?
More Japanese saying