One of the themes I write about often is the Japanese idea of joshiki, translatable as the knowledge that every (Japanese) person possesses by default, also known as “common sense.” Joshiki is all around you in Japan, the list of knowledge and behaviors and attitudes that everyone possesses except us poor gaijin. Despite my best efforts, I still find myself violating these rules of common sense daily: trying to go to a restaurant on the one day during the week that it’s closed; thinking it’s okay to put a pair of clean socks on the dining room table for a moment (it’s not, they’re considered “dirty” even though they were freshly laundered); and sometimes sleeping with my socks on, which the Japanese never do. My daughter is currently sick, and I suggested she take a bath and go to bed, but this was breaking a “common sense” rule too: in Japan, someone with any cold symptoms is forbidden from bathing, and must get to bed instead. “Why don’t you know this?” my wife asked, sure that there could only be one opinion on the subject possible. “What planet are you from that you think a person with a fever can take a bath?”
Do you take a bath when you’re feeling under the weather?