That’s what I was thinking this afternoon when asking one of the Japanese students in the lab about the preparations for our overnight lab trip tomorrow. There was a list of things to remember, and one of the items was to prepare a “バスタオル” (basu taoru). I know that タオル is a Japanized pronunciation of “towel”, but what does a bus (バス) have to do with a towel? Is it so hot inside the bus which we will use that I’ll need a towel for sweat? Is it so dirty that I’ll want to sit on a towel? Considering that this is Japan the second idea is even more absurd than the first.
The actual solution is far simpler: バス does not refer to a bus, but is supposed to mean “bath”, so the sentence says I should bring a “bath towel”. Since we’re going to an 温泉 (“onsen”, hot spring) that makes perfect sense. Why they didn’t use the Japanese term for bath (風呂, “furo”) is beyond me, though. 😉