1010 is the nickname for the national and various bathhouse (sento) organizations across Japan. The national bathhouse association's webpage is http://www.1010.or.jp/zenkoku/ and I always wondered why they used 1010 for their address. I guess it was easier to write then zenkokuyokujyokumiai.com (全国浴場組合).
So today when I woke up and checked my RSS feeds I saw this post about Moe Day from What Japan Thinks, a great blog that translates surveys in Japan, and found out that today was also Sento Day (銭湯の日) and I was shocked. How did I not know this before. Me the creator of Kansai Onsen Review and the soon to be opened Sento/Onsen webpage. I who has been to over 150 sento and onsen did not know that October 10th was Sento Day. I have disgraced myself. It would be sepuku time if I did not have the weighty responsibility of hosting this months Japan Blog Matsuri. (I've only got a few submissions in on it by the way.)
Anyhow I still did not know why 10/10 was Sento Day, in comes the always intelligent and lovely Yuko. While she didn't know what Moe was, and I'm kind of glad she doesn't, she did know why 1010 means sento.
1010 is made up of 1000 +10, right?
1000 is sen せん
10 is typically jyu じゅう in normal counters, but it can be to と
If you combine them: sen + to = sento
せん + と = せんと
so that's why 1010, one thousand and ten, is sento. Put a / thru the middle and you get 10/10, or October 10th... Sento Day!
I hope that made some sort of sense.
According to this article from the Tokyo Shimbun published yesterday Sento Day was established 18 years ago in Tokyo in order to promote more people to come back to their local bathhouses. On 10/10 many participating bathhouses are free to use. Sadly, the article continues, since the event started in Tokyo the number of sento in the area has almost halved from around 60 to 32 sento.
I've not taken a bath yet so I'm going to hop on my little scooter and find a sento to enjoy--even though its 1PM here in Japan. I hope you all go out and experience a bit of living Japanese history before it disappears.