March 26, 2012

Bless This Bathhouse from Thievery

After consulting with the girlfriendal unit, I determined that going to a sento may be the best way for me to get over this week-long stiff neck. A sento is a traditional Japanese bathhouse. I've been to onsens (hot-spring water bathhouses) plenty of times, but this was my first time to a sento. I could take a bath at home, but it would be very hard, and maybe the cost in gas would be about the same as the 450 yen to access a sento (I don't know).
One thing to keep in mind if you visit a bathhouse is that unlike most onsens, you need to take your own towels and soaps. Outside the sento doors, we discovered an interesting charm stuck to the wall.

It reads:盗賊除神璽 touzokujyoshinji, burglar abolish imperial?/divine-seal (this bathhouse is under holy protection from thievery). That last character usually refers to an emporer's seal, but 神璽 can refer to either the emporer's seal or the Three Divine Regalia. Ultimately, it comes from 天(あま)つ璽(しるし) (The Mark of* Heaven), so I think this is actually referring to something like that in this case.

Also of note is that both 璽 and 盗 don't have the standard amount of strokes on this sign. Older/alternative forms, I'm guessing.
--
*つ is really old Japanese for の (of, the genitive particle).

 

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