Bathing culture in Yangzhou

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A small lane in Yangzhou's old city, with a sign across the street advertising "3 yuan men's and women's public showers" (三元男女浴室) and a chess room

The first reports from bathing in Yangzhou stem from 2,200 years ago, where -at present day Yangzhou, Jiangsu, China- pots were filled with water for bathing. From the Han Dynasty to Tang Dynasty, the ancient Yangzhou still had showers at home, there were no public bathrooms at that time. According to the three knives Yangzhou written by Mr. Wang Xianxin, public bathhouses appeared in Yangzhou as early as the beginning of the 11th century, the Northern Song Yuanfeng era.

By the Qing Dynasty, Yangzhou bath industry had developed greatly. Xu Ning Zhang opened the first public bathhouse in Yangzhou.

During the time of Chinese revolution, Yangzhou had 33 bathhouses. After twists and turns, the number of bathhouses in Yangzhou had risen to more than 260. As of 2002, Yangzhou's bathhouse industry employed over 5,000 people; its annual revenue exceeded 500 million yuan. Just in Yangzhou's main urban area bathhouses served around 30,000 customers every day.[1]

Cultural significance[edit]

Bathing for people in Yangzhou is not only the need of health, but also a sign of civilization, the quality of life and the spirit of enjoyment. Bath leisure there reflect local culture and social civilization. Bath centers there concentrate in dedicated service. Contemporary bath centers have changed from relaxing places to serve communities. There is spacious bathing space, various kinds of bath and cultural facilities in bath centers in Yangzhou, which allows you to enjoy the physical and mental pleasure. Besides, soft lighting and elegant decoration give people a feeling of being in a dreamlike palace.[2]

Use outside Yangzhou[edit]

Because of the good reputation of bathhouses in Yangzhou, many of the bathhouses in around China also name themselves "Yangzhou bathhouse", although most of them are not qualified for their names. In an authentic Yangzhou bathhouse, attendants call their customers "Boss", and hand each of them a hot towel, then lead them to their seats, and give each of them a cup of hot green tea. After guests strip off their clothing, waiters use a clothes pole to put their clothes in a clothing pile which is raised about 3 meters off the ground to ensure the safety of the consumers’ money and valuables. In order to avoid getting cold, guests are given a large towel in the water. There are also workers in the pool that help guests bathe. Upon consumers getting out of the water, waiters use six warm towels to dry their body, head face, legs, and feet softly. Their eight movements—padding, cabling, carrying, rolling, dipping, dropping, twisting, squeezing are very quick and powerful. After all the service, waiters bid guests farewell. This kind of service can only be seen in Yangzhou, and it has been a standard in Yangzhou.[3]

See also[edit]