This summer, as the heat starts to rise and perhaps the kids start complaining of nothing to do in the holidays, what could be better than heading out and getting into the pool?
All around Nagoya, between July 20th and August 31st, there are outdoor public swimming pools, meaning you can get out of the air-con, feel the sunshine on your skin, all the while keeping nice and cool. And what’s more, at just 300 JPY for adults and 100 JPY for those under 16 & over 65, it needn’t cost an arm and a leg.
In some countries it is acceptable to quickly stick your head under the shower before diving into the pool – in some countries even this nod to hygiene is not required – but in Japanese public baths, much like in the hot spa onsen, it is expected that you wash thoroughly before you enter the pool. Soap and shampoo are not necessarily required, but a good scrub under the shower head is the least that is expected. Another thing to remember is the removal of your shoes before entering the changing rooms which, considering how many bare feet there are, is not such a daft idea.
Whether male or female, anyone swimming at a public pool is required to wear a swimming cap. And while some of the more follicly challenged amongst us gentlemen may feel it an absurd undertaking when we have more hair on our chests than on our heads, pool culture in Japan demands that we must follow the lead of our more hirsute companions. Swimming caps (often cloth as opposed to the nylon sort worn by professional swimmers) can be found in most sports stores. If you do not have a cap your local pool may be able to provide you with one for your visit.
It wasn’t so long ago that the pools were predominantly places in which to swim and little else. There were no games, no splashing about, no nothing. Nowadays this has mostly been relaxed, and all sorts of floating devices are permitted. However this may not be the case at all pools so either check with staff, lifeguards, or try to follow the examples of the other patrons. Also, the pools are not sunbathing spots, so don’t expect to be permitted to pull up a lounger and lie about soaking up the rays. You’re there to enjoy the water, and that’s just what you should be doing.
One of the great things about swimming is the peace and solitude of being fully submerged under water. In fact it can often feel as if you are all alone in the pool. If you do not pay close attention in Japanese public pools, this may indeed be the case. Every hour (usually on the hour or at five minutes to), the pool is entirely cleared while staff perform safety inspections and the lifeguards are changed.
Most swimming pools will request that women do not wear make up in the pool, but jewelry too is likely forbidden. Another big no-no in the pool are tattoos, though if you are aware of Japanese culture this will come as no surprise. If you do have tattoos, it is probably best to cover up with a rash vest, waterproof bandage, or the most concealing bathing suit you can find.
All pools below are open from 10:00 to 17:30.
To find your nearest pool, check out this map created by Nagoya International Center.
While not a public pool, and not even in Nagoya (it is over in Kuwana in Mie Prefecture) the outdoor waterpark at Nagashima Spa Land is filled to the brim with rides. In fact it is so jam-packed that it is credited as being the densest – with more rides per meter – in the world. There are eight slides including tunnels, rafts, and the frankly terrifying banana slingshot ride that has to be seen to believed. As well as the rides there are three main pools including a wave pool and a hot onsen pool. Be warned though, on summer weekends it can get pretty packed with people, and it is imperative that you cover up any tattoos.
Photo: flickr.com -Time for fun by alobos Life - (CC BY-SA 2.0) -Modified