A Lock for the Ages…

Written by Lorna Shapiro

I was travelling in Kyoto with a couple of Japanese women in their mid-thirties, both of whom had lived with us here. I wanted to go to a traditional Ofuro (public bath) that I had read about in the travel literature before I went and the Japanese are always happy to go to a bath, so it was not hard to convince them. We wandered around a bit, trying to find the exact location of the bath after getting off the bus. Then we saw someone walking along the street holding what looked to me like a cloth-wrapped package. It was sort of. It was their bathing supplies wrapped in a furoshiki, and the ladies recognized that this person would be heading to the ofuro, so we followed him and quickly arrived here:

The bathing areas are separated by gender and have an inside and outside area. Before going in, we left our shoes in traditional Japanese lockers, and the locks for these were like I’d never seen before. The keys looked like this.

How the heck do these work???!!!!! Thanks to my trusty iPhone, I have a video to show you. Here’s the link: Locks at the ofuro.


Now, don’t you wish we had locks like that? No quarters, no keys on safety pins, just a hunk of wood.