Source: Gaijin Pot

Japanese homes are typically equipped with fancy Japanese bath units, but public baths, or sento, are still common facilities. Although usually frequented by the elderly, they’re starting to become cool again with young people.

One traditional aspect of sento is enjoying a cold glass of milk. No one is really sure why, but one theory is that in the 1950s, sento offered common folk luxuries rarely seen in an average home: television, washing machines and refrigerators.

As a result, milk vendors saw a strategic advantage in stocking a sento with cold milk. Thus, drinking cold milk after a hot bath became a thing. Today, milk, coffee (with milk), fruity milk and other drinks are a sento staple, but the coffee variation is the most popular flavor.

Got milk?


— 東大阪 第二寿湯 (@DKotobukiyu) July 4, 2021



“Drinking bottled milk at a sento seems obvious, but you actually need permission from the public health center to sell it.

As of last month, it has been changed to only require notification, but if you want to start selling new products, you will need to appoint a food hygiene supervisor. Surprisingly, there are many hurdles to selling bottled milk. If you see milk at a public bath, please give it a try!”

How to state the obvious

Based on the word 当然(とうぜん) (natural), 当たり前 is a common expression used to speak about things that are obvious, or in other words, “the way it is” and “the way it should be.”

  • 当たり前だろう: “Of course!”
  • 当たり前だ: “It goes without saying!”
  • 当たり前じゃない: “Of course, not.”
  • 日本(にほん)では当たり前()のことが海外(かいがい)では当たり前()ではない: “What is commonplace in Japan is not commonplace in other countries.”
  • 挨拶(あいさつ)をすることは当たり前()の礼儀(れいぎ)です: “It’s common courtesy to say hello.”
  • それは誰(だれ)もが当たり前と考(かんが)える: “It’s something we all take for granted.”


Japanese Romaji English
銭湯(せんとう) sentou Public bath, bathing house
瓶(びん)牛乳(ぎゅうにゅう) bingyuunyuu Glass bottle milk
販売(はんばい)する hanbai suru Sell
保健所(ほけんじょ) hokenjo Health center
許可(きょか)がいる kyouka ga iru The/a permission is necessary
届出(とどけで) todoke Notification

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