Tokyo public baths launch campaign with a difference
The Japan News/Asia News Network / 07:43 PM October 21, 2018
TOKYO — “A foreigner holding a washbowl in a bathhouse is so cool!” was the reaction to one of the promotional posters on display in a Tokyo bathhouse. “You think public bathhouses are weird?!” was another. An association consisting of six bathhouse operators in the Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward has created four unconventional posters to boost interest in public baths.
The posters were the brainchild of Noboru Okajima, the third-generation owner of association-member bathhouse Daikokuyu. The 60-year-old has been involved in the conception of all of the association’s promotional posters, the latest of which were based on ideas that had not yet been adopted since the association started producing the posters in 2016.
The photos taken for the posters all feature bathhouses run by association members, as well as bathhouse employees and locals that Okajima personally asked to be involved in the project.
Advertising designer and Bunkyo Ward local Koji Shiokawa, 55, was responsible for the posters’ design and photography. “I wanted the photos to be simple and the words to be humorous,” he said.
One of the posters includes the words “New York Style,” which is a play on the Japanese word “nyuyoku,” or bathing. It features a stylized shot of a foreigner wearing a blazer and knitted tie standing in a dimly lit changing room at Fujimiyu bathhouse. Okajima asked an acquaintance he had volunteered with during a neighborhood fire protection patrol to model for the poster.
Another poster carries the words “Eerie,” “Horrific” and “Difficult to enter” — all things that are the complete opposite of what people might expect public bathhouses to be. The photo, which was taken at Daikokuyu, features the entrance of fictional bathhouse “Oni no Yu” (Devil’s bath). The noren curtain at the door includes the words “Amateurs are not allowed to enter,” in small print, above the expression, “We will never become that kind of bathhouse.”
The poster features members of a family living near Okajima’s house as they are leaving the bathhouse. The man emerging through the curtains is none other than Okajima himself.
The third poster turns the spotlight on the female members of staff that work at the association’s bathhouses. Women from each of the association’s six bathhouses feature on the poster, with the most prominent being a 26-year-old employee from Toyokawa Yokusen who collects entrance fees and watches over the changing rooms from the bathhouse’s elevated bandai seat.
The last poster features a boy in one of Daikokuyu’s changing rooms sitting under a cylindrical hair dryer as if wearing a helmet in a game of make-believe.
The elementary-school-age boy, who is wearing a furoshiki wrapping cloth as a cape in the photo, often visits Daikokuyu with his grandfather.
To express a nostalgic image of energetic youth, they dressed the boy in a simple white shirt. According to the association, they had so many great shots of him that it was difficult for them to choose one for the poster.
All of the posters have been posted on the association’s Facebook page, eliciting a number of positive comments. The posters are expected to be displayed at the bathhouses of association members, the ward office and local restaurants.
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