Sento (Public Bath House) – Sento is where you can take a bath and relax at a reasonable price. Have you ever wondered about the difference between Sento and Onsen? Roughly, it’s about minerals in the water. Onsen has natural minerals in its water, and usually, they have accommodation facilities while Sento offers convenient access. It’s a simple, earthy spot you can experience the authentic Japanese culture.
Brief History of Sento
Sento began in temples as a way to clean oneself in the 6th century in Japan. Buddhism brought this custom since they taught people having a bath brings well-being. People have introduced to the pleasure of having a bath.
In the 1100s, there are reports Shogun took a bath for 100 consecutive days as a rite for the departed soul of an abdicated emperor at the time. Only the rich could afford to have a bath facility in the house back then, they released their bath for neighbors from time to time, having tea ceremony or party after that.
Only after the Edo period, Sento we now know today came into operation. There were professional women who would wash the customer’s backs, and also men and women took a bath together.
Firstly, they provided the steam bath. The bath has been improved in incremental steps, we can see a form of Sento as warm water in a large bath and a large washing area. Private bath came into fashion after WWII.
1. Bunka Yokusen (文化浴泉) – Sento
In 1928, now Bunka Yokusen was built under the name of Bunka-Yu at the time. It’s been popular and survived the airborne attack during WWII fortunately, managed to stand undamaged.
Mild water is good for sensitive skin, leave your skin and hair hydrated after the bath. The water contains nanobubble (100ｍｍ) which is said to be good for losing weight, warming body, clearing skin, hardened arteries formed lesion… Soft water is good for the skin.
Every Sunday, they offer you a medicated bath.
What’s unique about this spot is they play jazz all the buildings including the bath. It’d relax your body and soul, you may want to stay longer.
Address: Higashiyama 3‐6‐8, Meguro-ku, Tokyo-to 153‐0043, Japan
Phone: +81 3-3792-4126
Hours: 3:30PM- 1AM（ +Sun. 8AM- 12AM）
2. Fujinoyu (藤の湯) – Sento
Hinoki-buro (a bath made of Japanese cypress) requires a high maintenance, yet which gives amazingly soothing and refreshing aroma and health/beauty benefits both for physically and mentally.
Their building is like a beautifully decorated stage, the owner wants to feel everybody who comes to this sento is an leading actor.
Fujino-yu – 藤の湯
Address: Tamagawadai 2-1-16, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo-to 158-0096, Japan
Phone: +81 3-3700-3920
3. Ichinoyu (一の湯)
Cranes and Mt. Fuji… This sento is filled with Japanese lucky charms. It’s opened in 1950, its high ceiling and watch stand are still in use and very characteristic. The owner says a watch stand is handy, you can look over the place, you’d notice when anyone gets sick and the customer seems to behave well.
Ichino-yu – 一の湯
Address: Numabukuro 1-39-10, Nakano-ku, Tokyo-to 165-0025, Japan
Phone: +81 3-3386-2836
Closed: 1st, 3rd and 5th Wed.
4. Fukunoyu (ふくの湯) – Sento
You can benefit from taking a bath in artificial radon hot spring water and natural crude drug water. Surrounded by lucky charms and you would definitely feel better and have something good happen to you!
Address: Sendagi 5-41-5, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Phone: +81 3-3823-0371
Open Everyday: Weekday 11AM-12PM
Sat. Sun. Holiday 8AM-12PM
Fee： 12 yrs old- : 460yen
6-11 yrs old: 180yen
-5 yrs old: 80yen
5. Isshinyu (一心湯)
Isshin-Yu opened in 1934, located in Edogawa-ku, the nearest station is Shinkoiwai station.
The paintings on the wall are cheerful as anthropomorphic animals are carrying a Mikoshi (a portable shrine),which is original paintings inspired by a book. They wanted children to find it cheerful and amusing.
Isshin-yu – 一心湯
Address: Matsushima 4-9-8, Edogawa-ku, Tokyo-to, Japan
Phone: +81 3-3651-6313
6. Mikokuyu (御谷湯) – Sento
They offer natural hot spring water (you can’t really tell the difference if it’s onsen or sento in this kind of case). Japanese modern interior is sophisticated which make you relaxed.
Since Hokusai was born in this ward, Kiyoto Maruyama, a painter painted Mt. Fuji inspired by Hokusai’s.
Mikoku-Yu – 御谷湯
Address: Ishiwara 3-30-8, Sumida-ku, Tokyo-to, Japan
Phone: +81 3-3623-1695
Fee: 12 yrs old- 460yen
6-11 yrs old 180yen
-5 yrs old 80yen
Handicapped person/ 90min. 1500yen
Once you step into Inari-yu, you can feel good old Japan. You can enjoy three different water temperature from hot, moderate to lukewarm.
Inari-yu is well-known for shooting of Thermae Romae, which originally was a Japanese manga series Thermae Romae by Mari Yamazaki. And the story is about, yes, sento – the public bath in ancient Rome.
Address: Takinogawa ６−２７−１４, Kita-ku, Tokyo-to 114-0023, Japan
Phone: +81 3-3916-0523
Sento have been the spot people come clean and relax themselves and communicate with others. It may not be luxurious, but its simplicity is what people ask for their daily relaxation. Bath tradition is deeply rooted in Japanese culture.
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