The thought of being naked together with dozens of strangers in a Japanese “sento” (public bath), is fine for you or do you have some embarrassment?
Whatever is your answer, I am convinced that most of you are not aware of which are the conduct and behavior to keep in a public bath or in a Japanese onsen.
So, if you’re not too shy, my advice is to try to enjoy at least once in your travel a good bath in one of the many “sento” scattered throughout Tokyo.
For most of the Japanese people, “sento” are a thing of the past, born time ago, when the houses did not have its own bathroom, until about 1970.
Records show that just in 1923, there were an estimated number of 2,800 “sento” units in Tokyo alone.
How to Behave in a Japanese “Sento“
So what is the best way to get a nice bathroom, enjoy the experience and leave a “sento” without causing any offense doing something wrong?
The first thing is the most obvious: you must be naked. No swimsuit or something. And all the public baths are separated by gender, in case you were wondering.
Once you have your small towel and your toiletries, you can head into the area of the main pool and sit on one of the plastic stools placed in front of one of the spaces of personal washing.
There is usually a mirror on the wall, a nozzle for shower and taps for hot and cold water.
Thoroughly wash your body and hair, and when you have finished, be sure to remove all traces of soap or shampoo on your body and your hair. At this point you can enter in one of the bathtubs, entering it slowly.
As you enter, make sure that your towel does not touch the water. Leave it on the edge of the bath or on the top of your head. All these measures are intended to preserve the purity and cleanliness of the water of each bath.
The average cost to access a “sento” is about 450 yen : inside you will also find vending machines or refrigerators with soft drinks and beer.
If you want to save some money, take from home your towels and toiletries, carrying them in a bag, as you may have to pay few yen more for shampoo, soap and rental of a towel.
Here you can find a list of the 5 best “sento” located within Tokyo.
Motomachi 27-1 Senju, Adachi-ku, + 81 (0) 3 3882 2660, open 3:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m., closed on Friday.
Kotobuki-cho 32-6 Senju, Adachi-ku, + 81 (0) 3 3881 3001; open 3:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m., closed on Monday.
Ikehata 04-03-20, Taito-ku, +81 (0) 3 3821 3826, open 15:30 to 23:00, closed on Monday.
01-11-11 Asakusa, Taito-ku, +81 (0) 3 3841-8645; open 1:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m., closed Tuesday.
Website : www.jakotsuyu.co.jp
3-14-5 Ueno, Taito-ku, + 81 (0) 3 3831 7305, open 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., closed on Monday.
Website : www.tsubameyu.com
Enjoy your bath in a tipical “sento” in Tokyo!