Relax in a Sento: Japanese Public Bath

  • TRADITIONAL
  • CULTURE
  • Have you tried using the public baths in Japan? How was your experience? If not, would you like to try soaking in the open air and relaxing atmosphere?

    Sento: Bath culture in Japan

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    Japan has sento or bathhouses, but these bathhouses are decreasing by the number since the 20th century since more and more Japanese homes now have their own bathrooms. These bathhouses are a place to wash away the hardships of the day. It is to clear one’s mind while taking a bath and chatting with fellow women and men who are also using the sento. The people who are using the sento wash their bodies first to remove dirt and soak their full bodies in the hot waters in front of Mt. Fuji backdrops.

    What does a sento look like?

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    Sento are communal bathhouses. The entrance is somehow similar to that of a temple; showing a Japanese curtain with the kanji “湯” (yu) meaning “water”. As you enter the sento, you need to pay an entrance fee of 450 yen. Some of the bathhouses separate the men and women. In both parts, there is a line of faucets to wash away the dirt from your body and a huge bath for soaking the whole body.

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    And of course, they also have changing rooms where you can keep your clothes and shoes. Modern bathhouses now have sauna with a bathtub of cold water to cool your body down. However, using the saunas requires an extra fee.

    Sento in Japanese popular culture

    If you have watched the film, Thermae Romae I and II, then you might have an idea what kind of bath culture Japan has. Thermae Romae II is about a Roman citizen, Lucius, who time slips in post-modern Japan from ancient Rome, to find a convenient and effective way of making bathhouses. The movie showed Japan’s sento, hot springs and their swimming pools and helped share the idea of public baths to a wider audience.

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