In Japanese custom, cleansing of the body is done prior to entering the bathing tub. In men's bath houses, the cleansing rubdown of the body was sometimes performed by geisha. The geisha bath is therefore a combination bath/massage conducted with sensuous deliberation. It is a common offering from high-end escort services, adapted to Western bathing customs, but is perhaps not common enough in the home. Here's how to give your lover (or yourself) a decadent geisha bath.

The Preliminaries

In both cases, indulge yourself with some mood-enhancing theatrics.

Shopping list:

  • Bottle of sake, preferably a chilled variety
  • Flowers or greenery
  • Sake cups (cordial glasses and shot glasses work in a pinch)
  • Egyptian cotton towels and washcloths (optional)
  • Fluffy robe
  • A simple soap (e.g., Ivory) preferably moisterized.
  • Essential oils (rose geranium and eucalyptus - optional)
  • Orange or jasmine water (optional)
  • Clean-tasting fruit, not too ripe: e.g., melon, green apples, lychee.
  • Kimono

Make sure the bathroom is spotlessly clean (take a thorough shower first, so the bathtub will be pristine), and move all clutter (at least temporarily) under the sink. Arrange flowers or greenery, light enough candles to cast a flattering light, and put on some unobtrusive music, perhaps with an Asian theme (Lucia Hwang, shamisen music, etc.) Don a long silky kimono. Pull long hair into a bun fastened with chopsticks or into a samurai knot, or give short hair a sleek, precise look with a fine-toothed comb and a clean part. To add a high gloss to hair without styling products, dry it by rubbing a piece of silk down the shaft to smooth the cuticle before styling.

For Lovers

Fill the bathtub with hot (but not too hot) water. A few drops of essential oil (rose geranium and eucalyptus make a nice, clean, floral scented water), or a splash of orange blossom or jasmine water may be appropriate. Avoid heavy, pendulous scents like patchouli and amber, at least in the bathwater.

Invite your lover to come into the bathroom. The removal of your lover's clothing should be done deliberately and sensuously, but refrain from anything more sexual. As in some forms of Tantric lovemaking, the geisha bath should focus on eroticism without the objective of physical climax. Enjoy every subtle physical sensation - the texture of the cloth, the skin, etc. - and communicate this relish (within restraint).

Once your lover is nude, lead him or her to the tub, and gently guide into the hot water. Give your lover a chance to acclimate to the water by pouring small quantities of it over his or her body, and touch them lightly. Washing should begin with the dominant hand, up the arm, around the neck, down the other arm and hand, back to the sternum, down the chest, back, and abdomen, the buttocks and genitalia (gently, gently) proceeding to the legs, and finishing with the feet. All washing should be conducted with slow deliberation and attentiveness to the pleasure of the lover.

Small bites of refreshing fruit and sips of chilled sake should be administered intermittently. Hold the cup to your lover's lips, and feed small pieces of the fruit by hand. Small pieces of ice may be appropriated from the sake ice bucket to cool your hands (which may then be used to cool your lover's skin) should the warmth begin to feel oppressive before you are ready to end the bath. Using pieces of ice directly on the skin can be too much of a jolt, but this varies case by case. Just don't startle them with it.

Shampooing should be done last, if at all, as it is somewhat complicated in the absence of a well-configured bath with shower attachment. If shampooing would be complicated, noisy (water running), or hazardous (soap in the eyes), by all means skip it. However, the hair may be brushed and scalp massaged in order to leave no skin neglected. Adding a few drops of tea tree oil to the brush can be very invigorating.

Once the bath is completed, give your lover asakuri - a vigorous exfoliating rubdown with a clean towel. Start at the center of the body and work outwards from the heart to the hands and feet. Wrap them in a big, fluffy robe, and retire to the bedroom. At this point, the dynamic may take a turn to the intimate - but if your lover is feeling blissfully relaxed and sleepy, put them to bed with a kiss on the forehead.

For Yourself

As above, commit to pampering yourself. Flowers, scented water, crisp and clean tasting fruit, a decadent soak, and a reacquaintance with your body. Be as deliberate and sensual as you would with a lover. If sexual feelings arise, guide them into a more interior experience of sensuality and self-love. As above, avoid turning the bath itself into a climax-oriented situation.

As you have already showered (assuming that the directions above have been followed), you will be indulging yourself with a furo - a hot water soak, no soap.

One decadent Japanese bath secret reputedly used by the finest geisha is the sake bath. Take a large bottle of sake. Reserve a small quantity of it for yourself to sip (i.e., in a little pitcher or small glass that can be nestled into a bowl of ice). Pour the rest of it into a tub filled with hot water.

The sake bath tingles. It reputedly will draw toxins from your body. I can only vouch for the fact that it makes your blood feel like sparkling champagne, and it leaves your skin glowing and radiant. Sips of sake and pieces of chilled fruit are, as ever, not to be underestimated in their power to promote well-being.

When you're ready to get out of the bath, give yourself a vigorous asakuri rubdown, perhaps dust with a light rice powder - and revel in your sense of well-being. This bath is equally wonderful for quiet nights at home and as a preparatory for a night out on the town.

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