Japanese Style Soaking Tubs
A Furo is a Japanese bath. It is a type of bath which historically has been a tall wooden bathtub. Baths of this type are found all around Japan in homes and Japanese inns. A Furo differs from a standard Western bathtub by being deeper. In Japan the Furo will be traditionally made of cedar wood (or similar Asian wood), but sometimes metal.
This type of furo led to the modern Western-style hot tub. Japanese bathrooms are small by U.S. standards. The bathroom can be set up much like a shower. In a Japanese Furo, which is usually separate room from the rest of the bathroom, the tub can be sunk part way into the floor, or accessible with steps. This "tub room" will sometimes have a shower in the room (or the entire room is a shower with drain in the floor and Furo in the corner).
Many times, but not always, the bath water is only used for long soaking, the individual having showered or washed off before entering the Furo. Hot baths not only get the body clean but maintain one's health by warming and stimulating the circulation. The water can be quite hot (110 degrees or a little warmer), providing healthy relaxation at the end of the day.
Bathing in this manner is an important part of the daily routine in Japan. It can be family time in the bath, where small children will bathe with parents and there can be good conversation at the end of the day.