When in a place that is completely foreign to them, especially for an extended period of time, people tend to seek out creature comforts that remind them of home. This way, even for a small moment, they can be connected with something familiar and comforting.
It may seem a wonder then that, in a series about a Japanese girl who moves halfway around the world to Paris, France, we rarely see our heroine, Yune, pine for home in Ikoku Meiro no Croisée. Instead, she decides to take the admirable and optimistic route of gamely trying everything that 1800s Paris has to offer, even if it means that she has to dip her cheese in soy sauce in order to stomach the taste. The viewer rarely sees her yamato nadeshiko mask slip. As Yi said in her previous post on fashion and haute couture, what Yune brings with her to Paris is not simply a wardrobe filled with cherry blossom lacquer combs and richly embroidered kimonos but her Japanese mind frame and attitude as well.
However, even Yune is not immune to refreshing herself with something a bit more familiar to her, and she does so in episode four, when she sneaks off at night, unsuccessfully, to take a bath.
For Yune a bath is not a means of cleansing herself, as Claude mistakenly labels the scene as such after accidentally walking in on her. Coming from a culture of onsen and communal bathing, Yune more than likely, as Oscar points out, has been longing for a bath for quite some time in order to relax and restore herself. In Japan, baths are not for cleansing oneself, but for respite and rejuvenation. (In fact, one is expected to clean their body before entering a bath, especially a public one. To not do so is considered extremely rude.) Public baths are also considered to be places where social barriers are somewhat lowered. While washing away the stress of the daily grind it becomes easier to talk to people regardless of their social status outside of the bath.
A bath means something completely different to Claude, who scolds Yune for wasting water. It is a luxury and a means of manipulation for Alice, who uses the bath as a lure in her attempt to force Yune to stay with her. At the climax of the episode, Yune eschews the comfort and familiarity of the bath in order to fulfill a promise that she made to Claude, once again reiterating her place as an ambassador of a social attitude. In context, when one considers exactly what that bath probably meant to Yune, it makes her determination in begging Alice that she be returned to Claude because of her promise (to make him dinner of all things) even more significant and poignant.
Traveling around the world to live in a place completely foreign is bound to make anyone long for the comforts of home, even for someone as determined and open-minded as Yune. What familiar things do you seek out after having spent some time in a foreign place?
About the Guest Author:
AJtheFourth is a lovely friend who shares incredible insights. She is also just a wonderful, fascinating person. She writes for The Untold Story of Altair & Vega, which, like her, has quickly become one of my favorites. Do make a visit there!