The very first time I ever shaved in Japan was New Years Day 1979 and it was in a public bath in a small city named Komastu, yes the tractor companies home base. It was a little tense at first, not because I was again like in a high school shower, no it was because most of the guys here in this bath house were yakuza, and they knew that I knew who they were. Lots and lots of body tatoos just like your would imagine. The thing is that the ofuro bath house was just down the street and around the corner from their office building, and it was the nearest one to my house. I ended up going there at least 3 times a week for 6 months and off and on for the next few years.
I shaved with a straight razor back then, and old German blade with a natural color bone handle, I still have it. And this was the razor I took to the ofuro. I was the only one there with a western straight but a lot of men did and still do shave with these little, but very sharp disposable straights. Of course I had a small strop with me too, no tatoos but at least I had a strop. Well, a small strop. But they didn’t have one!
From that very first day until today I have felt that shaving at a japanese bath house is one of the very best places on earth to shave, and I always get an excellent shave when I do. To begin with you have just soaked for 10-15 minutes in abnormally hot, hot water. Usually in the 42-46 degrees Celsius (110-115F) range, so talk about hydrated beard stubble. Then you got the endless supply of even hotter water if you want it to rinse in, choices in free shaving cream and your own little sit down to shave at mirror. Have you ever sat down to shave? Here are photos of where I bathed and shaved today on the 17th floor of my hotel. click on the photos for larger versions.
The soothing mineral water, an outdoor pool where I sat in the rain, and again I got a excellent relaxing shave afterwards. Alx