Dare To Bare

There is a Japanese tradition that is completely unrelated to tea. I heard it from an American tea trader. I liked it so much that I want to tell you about it. The Japanese have found a way to forge transparent business relations, work together for a long time, and to trust each other in business, without hiding anything. And this is how they do it!

The Japanese communal nude bathing is an important part of the Japanese way of life, and the ritual itself is also a kind of metaphor for healthy communication and good relationships. It is thought to strengthen bonds among people. A focal point is not just for bathing but for chatting, meeting friends, and generally feeling connected to others in the neighborhood. Through mutual nakedness we are all the same. When you remove the formalities and the barriers through communal relaxation in the bath, you create a sort of skinship which leads to more honest, clearer communication.

The phrase, “Hadaka no Tsukiai” is used, and literally means a “naked relationship”. Here, nudity is not inherently sexual, and instead is seen as one’s most natural state. They believe that once you’ve removed the barrier of your clothes, you also begin to overcome mental barriers, facilitating a deeper level of friendship. You have an association between people without being tied to their status or title. There is an unspoken rule that you respect each other and accept each other as they are.

Hadaka no tsukiai reminds me of my need to be more “naked” in my own friendships. It’s easy for me to coast along, never digging deeper or having challenging conversations. But those are the conversations that matter the most and I want to value the people I can have them with. With old friends and with new, those are the types of friendships I want to intentionally cultivate and invest into.