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  • Welcome to one of Tokyo's many public bathhouses called "Sentō" they're usually very distinctive looking buildings around neighborhoods with high chimneys

  • We're going to get naked and show you what makes Tokyo's bath houses worth a visit

  • Tokyo Sentō all have the same price, but they're certainly all different than unique

  • As the industry changes from the past to the future, it's an exciting time right now to take a bath in Tokyo

  • Welcome to Takara-Yu, this is one of Tokyo's most famous Sentō, sentō being a public bathhouse

  • Takara-Yu is famous for kind of maintaining that retro style that they have decades and decades ago

  • But that's not the only attraction, of course, there the baths and to help me explain it all

  • He is a Sentō master, Machida-san

  • I think he has just arrived

  • This isn't your first visit here for you?

  • Of course not. I've visited here so far, nearly 300 times

  • Oh, great!

  • By the way, when this building has been constructed?

  • About 80 years old

  • It's characterized by its Japanesse traditional style

  • That's right. Very traditional Japanese looking

  • What's kind of attraction is there in this Sentō?

  • This Sentō highly appeals to

  • its high ceiling

  • There is also a very beautiful and spacious garden and the traditional painting

  • This is a vast area you can't enjoy in your own house bath and a lot of tradition lives here

  • So the purposes of Japanese bathing are half washing the body clean and half relaxing

  • So Takara-Yu has a lot of attractions to it of course every Sentō in Tokyo has an attraction

  • Something that makes it special Takara-Yu

  • it's the building itself and the garden not many Sentō have space for real nature in the city and

  • Then there's the building

  • External appearance, it resemble a temple

  • If you're wondering why it's because this is Paradise!

  • It's Paradise!!

  • Let's go!

  • Takata-Yu is a pretty typical Japanese bath house under its roof the showers with faucets under to fill the buckets for bathing

  • Rather than Mount Fuji, Takata-Yu highlights the other side of Japan the painting done by Machida-san himself

  • Wait a moment!

  • Oh, we haven't changed yet !

  • It's time to change

  • This is much better

  • Yeah, so now that we changed you're ready for the bath

  • This bath room - the ceiling is pretty high

  • This is one characteristic of Tokyo Sentō

  • The roof is high to let the steam out

  • On the outside where the waterfall is made of the rocks from Mt. Fuji

  • Machida-san is telling me that a piece of Mount Fuji exists outside that window

  • It's not obvious at first but Fujisan is there -- sort of

  • You see outside that window, there's a big boulder that was actually brought to the bath from Mount Fuji

  • Do you see it, it's hard not to feel the power of Mount Fuji here

  • Every Sentō in Tokyo pays homage to Mount Fuji in one way or another

  • But it's still a Sentō, and we still have to get into the bath

  • Wash your body before getting in the quick rinse is usually enough

  • Bathers must be completely naked when entering the bath, but for this video, we're wearing towels

  • Sentō aren't typically hot springs the water is heated before entering the bath

  • Machida-san and I went into the back to see a demonstration on how they used to heat the Sentō baths in the past

  • They did it with wood and fire

  • This heater is the last of its kind in Tokyo and now Takara-Yu uses gas and electricity to heat the baths

  • The heater produces a lot of heat and a lot of smoke

  • There really is a lot of smoke

  • That smoke is why Sentō have those high chimneys.

  • They're no longer necessary but many keep them up because it's easy to see the center from far away

  • Chimneys are also a symbol of the bathhouse you can see that the wood generates a great deal of smoke

  • The Sentō has changed a lot over the years

  • Japan is rich in water and has high temperature and high humidity

  • so that is why Sentō grew in numbers

  • Also Japan has a lot of Onsen

  • so people are used to getting into baths

  • Tokyo used to have about

  • 2,000 Sentō more than

  • 2,000 Sentō over the last 15 years or so the number has been declining now there's about 600 remaining in Tokyo

  • People have baths in their houses

  • They're also much busier have busy escapees Sentō bathers have changed a lot over the years

  • But fewer bathers these days Sentō have made more space between the showers

  • How long does one stay in the bath

  • It depends on a person, but they stay in for 30 minutes or so

  • 30 minutes? Some people even longer

  • So how is the price of the Sentō decided?

  • From way back, it has been the same as one bowl of Soba

  • Right about 400 yen in current currency

  • Same since the Edo period (1603-1868)

  • So a simple bowl of soba noodles decided the price when bowls got more expensive, so did the entrance fee in Tokyo it's now

  • 460 Yen

  • Takara-Yu's garden is also a big draw you can watch the carp swim by

  • The building is also an attraction constructed in the 1930s the outside maintains pretty much as it was back

  • Then the bath is family-run and the owner showed me some of the history of the bath

  • This is around 1937 or 1938

  • This picture shows the ceremony for putting the ridge-timber in place of this bath-house

  • A bunch of the carpenter specializing in temple, shrine etc. construction are lining up

  • You haven't used the second floor at all, haven't you?

  • timber construction

  • No machnines or cranes were used. By only "Ningen (human) power"

  • This is a picture of the well

  • to bring the water up manually

  • Water was brought up by wells to fill the baths a labor-intensive job

  • This is my uncle's family

  • Sentō are almost always family-run businesses going back generations. There's a love for the community it brings in

  • Ceremony of the day the Sentō opened

  • This was the day that Takara-Yu Sentō opened

  • The neighborhood may have changed around it, but Takara-Yu has stood strong throughout the years

  • The Sentō is more than a public bath these days. It's also a community spot for events like music performances and art exhibits

  • That's sort of the place I want to make here

  • This is not just a bath, it's a different kind of place

  • There's a connection between bathing and drinking milk, coffee milk is Machida-san's recommendation

  • From way back, kids came to the Sentō for coffee milk

  • When you get into the bath, you get dehydrated

  • and you want something sweet

  • In old days, they only sold normal milk

  • but since kids came, they started to have this

  • Kids think coffee something adults drink

  • so when they drink it, they feel mature

  • All kids want to be adults and adults love the nostalgia

  • Delicious! Totally satisfied

  • What a incredible feeling! Felt great, didn't you

  • We are totally refreshed!

  • This is just one experience one Tokyo Sentō

  • There are hundreds more to explore as I said each one is special and another Sentō master was waiting for me across town

  • Right away, you can see that the building is modern almost looks like a museum

  • This is Hisamatsu-Yu and it's been remodeled to fit today's style

  • Since everyone has a bathtub in their house these days bathers look for an enhanced experience

  • You pay and get your key, which is a card in this case welcome to the 21st century

  • It's used for the locker

  • Oh, this is Shimokitazawa-san, you can tell from his t-shirt that when it comes to bathing he means business

  • Change into your birthday suit and make your way to the baths

  • The showers are the lazy man's way to rinse yourself be careful not to splash your neighbor Shimokitazawa- san prefers the tap and bucket method

  • Shimokitazawa-san invites me to try it out everything looks fine another relaxing bath

  • until things go totally wrong

  • Pulsing in the water is an electrical current. It's like he planned the whole thing

  • After a few minutes he convinces me that it's good for my health and to give it another go

  • Of course, I'm skeptical about the whole thing, but maybe I didn't give it a fair chance

  • Yep, it's still shocking and still rather funny to my friend

  • The current runs between these two bars, so now you know

  • Hisamatsu-Yu, also has an outdoor hot spring bath that bubbles

  • I think you really need to have this open air when you're in a real Onsen because that the cold air and the hot water really

  • Penetrates your soul like it gives you energy doesn't

  • Good for your health. Yeah, very good for your health!

  • Everyday, everyday, EVERYDAY!

  • Do you go to Sentō everyday? Of course, everyday.

  • Besides good health what's the attraction for him?

  • It's very interesting because it's quite different in places,

  • with the exterior, interior and the water itself and the people as well

  • People coming are so different in every Sentō

  • Hisamatsu-Yu was also an incredible Sentō experience and I'm starting to see why bath tourism is popular with Japanese

  • Each one is like entering a new world

  • Shimokitazawa-san knows about my final destination Daikoku-Yu, but while I'm travelling there

  • Let's take a look at some other Sentō in Tokyo as I said before the industry is changing to meet the times

  • This is the newly remodeled Sakae-Yu, the new style is modern giving bathers a totally different experience

  • Beautiful white walls of the changing room as you can see lighting is important to set the mood here

  • it looks like a scene from the future a bath from the Year 2050 and

  • The sound on has incredible art on the ceiling

  • Bathing has gotten a lot more exciting at Sakae-Yu

  • Another style shift is to go back in history to another era

  • Hasunuma-Onsen is newly remodeled as well, but in the 1920s Taisho era look

  • The Mount Fuji mural usually over the bath is now in the lobby so people can take photos of it

  • The ceiling is high

  • surrounded by stained glass and antique looking lights

  • The bath has painted tile making it seem like a theme park the main bath pays homage to japan's oldest bathhouse

  • Dogo-Onsen and Matsuyama where I was unclear this episode

  • This is a hot spring water with natural minerals coming from deep underground

  • Japan's four seasons painted above the showers going back in time is just as fun as going to the future

  • But there is one modern touch here the carp swimming under the floor. It's digital

  • Welcome to Daikoku-Yu and Oshiage near the Tokyo Skytree

  • Come on in it's an inviting place for locals and tourists alike

  • Leave your shoes in the locker and get a ticket from the vending machine

  • Like everywhere else it's 460 yen

  • Bring your own towel or pay a little extra to rent one. You'll also get a key for your locker

  • The setup is a little similar to Takata-Yu

  • There's my good friend Fujisan on the wall above

  • Grab a bucket and a stool and rinse yourself then pick a bath

  • The Super Jet