Names/signs of gendered bathrooms in temples

I have a friend who’s over at 延暦寺, and he’s curious as to why the bathrooms are labeled 満月(mangetsu, full moon) and 満天 (manten, the whole sky), the former I believe being 女 normally.

Apparently at another temple he remembers one of them being labeled 姫 but couldn’t remember the other.

Can anyone shine light on the origin of this practice?


I’ve never come across these, interesting!
I’ve only seen the 男・女 signs for bathrooms or onsen…
I’m interested to know the meaning behind this!

took a little while to research around… but according to ryokan.expedia those seem to be just the names of the two ofuro, not what we in the rest of the world consider as “bathrooms”. The site lists these two baths(男)満天の湯・大風呂(男), (女)満月の湯・大風呂(女). Its pretty normal in any ryokan to often give fancy names to some of the nicer rooms or ofuro rooms.


Ooo, I visited Enryaku-ji back in April. Don’t recall any weird bathroom signs, though I confess I don’t honestly recall going to the bathroom at all…

@nyocchi Nice bit of research, but temples are not known for their baths…


well i assume these 満天 and 満月 are also used for toilets as well as baths (probably originating from the onsen/bath usage of it)

I have seen 姫 as well. I’m not sure about the male version anymore, but I think it was 殿.

Well I mean, labeling bathrooms 殿 and 姫 is kind of like naming the bathrooms “ladies” and “gentleman” instead of “male” and “female.” Like there aren’t any actual ladies or gentleman (in the nobility-of-the-monarchy sense) here in the US, but we still have the linguistic holdover in order to sound ‘classy’ (pun intended).


Well, yeah, that’s exactly the same.
I was replying to the part

The male version could have been 紳士 rather than 殿 though :thinking:

According to Wikipedia, Enryaku-ji was founded in 788, torched and burned to the ground at some point, and then rebuilt in the 16th and 17th centuries. It’s the headquarters of the Tendai Buddhist sect which originally came to Japan from China. To me, those names, magnetsu and manten, just sound like poetic names for women (magnetsu) and men (manten). My impression is that Japanese people have traditionally separated the place where they bathe from the place where they use the toilet. There seem to be so many words for bathroom. (furoba, otearai, basuruumu, etc.) Enryaku-ji is very old and has been mainly a place where Buddihist monks have lived. The Western idea of “bathroom” is probably quite new in Japan. My knowledge of kanji is currently quite limited but I love to do zen meditation so I do know something about Buddhism.

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