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A brief history of selling bath water

What connects Belle Delphine with the leader of a doomsday cult and a Japanese girl punk band?

July 14, 2019

4:28 PM

14 July 2019

4:28 PM

Instagram model Belle Delphine made waves in the news this month after she decided to sell tubs of her own bath water for $30 a pop.

The ‘product’ sold out in just three days, and led to a bountiful trove of online content, including my own review for Spectator USA.

But Delphine isn’t the first person to sell bath water to her followers.

Shoko Asahara, founder of the Japanese doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo and the man behind the Tokyo subway sarin gas terrorist attack in 1995, which killed 12 people and injured over 1,000 more, also sold his own bath water to devotees who drank it during rituals.

According to the Japan Times, Asahara’s followers, who numbered in the tens of thousands across Japan and Russia during the cult’s peak, ‘took part in bizarre rituals, such as drinking his bath water and wearing electrical caps they believed synchronized their brain waves with Asahara’s.’

Delphine’s bath water, at $30 a tub, was far cheaper than Asahara’s bath water, however, which sold for ‘$300 an ounce.’

The BBC further reported that members of the cult ‘paid handsomely for rituals involving Asahara’s hair and bathwater – despite the group urging followers to reject materialism,’ with one of Asahara’s followers allegedly ‘paying more than £6,115 ($8,100) in 1988 for a “blood initiation” where he drank what was said to be the leader’s blood.’

The blood rituals were reportedly the most expensive to engage in.

With his bath water sales, Asahara seemed to spark a modern trend, which has been mirrored not just by Belle Delphine, but Japanese girl band the Banana Monkeys too.

In January, the group briefly listed the bathwater of two stars from the band for sale at 100,000 Yen per bottle, or around $926, before deleting the listing for reasons currently unknown.

Asahara’s Aum Shinrikyo cult, believe it or not, still exists today, though it has split into two different groups with different names.

Both groups, according to Newsweek, ‘are still legal in Japan, but have been designated dangerous ideologies subject to surveillance.’

Asahara, who was sentenced to death in 2004, was finally executed on July 6, 2018 for his part in the Tokyo subway sarin gas attack.

Eerily, almost exactly one year later, Delphine put up her own bath water for sale.


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