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Bathhouse Basics 6: The Wooden Pillow (mok-ch'im – 목침)

Posted in bathhouse and jjimjilbang culture, bathhouse Basics by 노강호 on August 4, 2010

Rest your weary head on a wooden pillow (목침)

The wooden head rest (pillow) is a common site in bathhouses and jjimjilbang. Obviously, a cotton pillow in a sauna would be a little grotty as laying your head on the sweat of the previous user isn’t very appealing. Hence the mok-ch’im (목침). Though they look quite uncomfortable, it is surprising how quickly you can adapt to them and for a little snooze they are perfect.

Bathhouse and jjimjilbang head rests are usually standard blocks made out of a hardwood and very often made from hinoki cypress, however, they do come in a range of other designs and can cost over 40.000 Won. More expensive mok-ch’im can be made to measure.

Various wooden pillow (order link)

 

'Tailor made' mok ch'im.

The antithesis of my memory foam pillow

Okay, they may not be everyone’s idea of a comfortable, but many years ago I learnt to sleep on the floor – without a mattress. When you body has learnt to sleep in positions which distribute your weight evenly across your body, which takes a few months, and which can be transited between subconsciously, sleeping on the floor is amazingly comfortable, far more so than a bed! Maybe the wooden pillow just needs perseverance!

 

 

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© Nick Elwood 2010. This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.