17. Nov 2023 / 27 min

Sauna Culture in Japan

Julie Yu-Wen Chen, Eetu-Antti Hartikainen

In 2020, Finland’s sauna culture was added to the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Sauna culture is an integral part of the lives of the majority of the Finnish population. Interestingly, the Finnish style of sauna-going has inspired quite a few individuals in Japan to travel to Finland to learn more about sauna as a lifestyle. It seems that there is active interest in investigating foreign bathing habits in Japan.

In this episode, Julie Yu-Wen Chen talks to Eetu-Antti Hartikainen, a Finnish research student at Hokkaido University to understand the sauna boom and the localization of sauna culture in Japan. Eetu-Antti also shares his research of how Japanese sauna enthusiasts form some commonly shared values to differentiate themselves from others. However, sauna enthusiasts are very diverse as a group, which is seen in the contrasting opinions and assumptions concerning how sauna space should be utilized for enjoyment.

Julie Yu-Wen Chen is Professor of Chinese Studies at the Department of Cultures at the University of Helsinki (Finland). Dr. Chen serves as one of the editors of the Journal of Chinese Political Science (Springer, SSCI). Formerly, she was chair of Nordic Association of China Studies (NACS) and Editor-in-Chief of Asian Ethnicity (Taylor & Francis). You can find her on University of Helsinki Chinese Studies’ website, Youtube, and her personal Twitter.

The Nordic Asia Podcast is a collaboration sharing expertise on Asia across the Nordic region, brought to you by the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) based at the University of Copenhagen, along with our academic partners: the Centre for East Asian Studies at the University of Turku, and Asianettverket at the University of Oslo.

We aim to produce timely, topical and well-edited discussions of new research and developments about Asia.

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