3,000 year bath

Performed on April 2, 2022
QNA Eternal Spa  | Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

Japanese bathing practices emerged from China and Corea around 1000 BCE. The practice traveled to Japan through Buddhism and flowed into Shinto misogi water purification rituals. The Issei carried the practice to America in the late 1800s. Many were single men living in boarding houses, hotels, and SROs without baths. They would visit sentō public baths for a soak, a cleanse, a rest, and company. Ten were located in Little Tokyo, two of which were on the block where the performance took place: the Miyajima-yu and Tokiwa-yu. Only the Tokiwa-yu’s building still stands. Most sentō were lost to WWII Japanese American incarceration.

With help from my family, I took a bath in the 10 sentō of Little Tokyo.

Performers: Andrew James Phoenix Jewell, Angel Pang, Jessica Katz, Paloma Avila & Paul Oshima

Images: Sangjin Kim

Thank you to Hirokazu Kosaka, Little Tokyo Historical Society (David Maldonado, Michael Okamura & Bill Watanabe), QNA & MOCA

S. Oshima © 2019