Sentō (銭湯) is a type of Japanese communal bath house where customers pay for entrance. Traditionally these bath houses have been quite utilitarian, with a tall barrier separating the sexes within one large room, a minimum of lined up faucets on both sides and a single large bath for the already washed bathers to sit in among others. Since the second half of the 20th century, these communal bath houses have been decreasing in numbers as more and more Japanese residences now have baths. Some Japanese find social importance in going to public baths, out of the theory that physical proximity/intimacy brings emotional intimacy, which is termed skinship in pseudo-English Japanese. Others go to a sentō because they live in a small housing facility without a private bath or to enjoy bathing in a spacious room and to relax in saunas or jet baths that often accompany new or renovated sentōs. Here, We introduce 4 famous retro sento in Tokyo.
Atami-yu was open in 1954 and not much has changed since then. Although many sento has installed gas boilers, Atami-yu still heat their bath water with firewood.
It’s a hidden gem in the maze of Kagurazaka. If you don’t pay attention, you’ll probably miss it.
The wall mural was recently repainted, but the iconic Mt. Fuji is still there. Their bath water is famous for being very hot. Herbal bath is also available. Also they have a free towel rental.
Address: 3-6 Kagurazaka, Shinjyuku, Tokyo Access: ・From Ueno: JR Keihintohoku line to Kanda station, Chuo line from Kanda station to Iidabashi station/ 6 minutes from Iidabashi station ・From Shinjuku: JR Chuo line/ 6 minutes from Iidabashi station Hours: 3:00pm ~ 12:30am *Closed on Saturday Fees: 460 yen Tel: +81 (0)3 3260-1053
The bathouse built in 1938 is still standing b today.
It has been renovated since then, and the inside is very clean and spacious. Their herbal bath water has different herbs everyday.
Takara-yu is most famous for its beautiful Japanese garden. You can enjoy this nice garden from your bath tub as well. Unfortunately, this garden isn’t accessible from the women side. There is a smaller garden next to the women’s bathroom.
Address: 27-1 senju motomachi, Adachi, Tokyo Access: ・From Ueno: Hibiya line/ 18 minutes from Kita-senju station ・From Shinjuku: JR YAmanote line to Nishi-nippori station, Chiyoda line to Kita-senju station/ 18 minutes from Kita- senju station Hour: 3:00pm ~ 11:30pm *Closed on Friday Fees: 460 yen Tel: +81 (0)3 3881-2660
Inari-yu is one of the oldest bathhouse buildings in japan which was built in 1930. A Japanese hit movie Thermae Tomae was filmed here.
The vintage style entrance. This sento has a traditional Bandai which means there is someone sitting inside the changing room in between the men’s side and women’s side so he/she can watch and receive fees from both sides.
Although the exterior has kept its classic style since 1930, the interior was largely renovated in 2014. It’s very clean and polished. They have three tubs ranging from very hot, hot, and warm.
Don’t feel rushed after the bath. Make sure you get a drink, relax, and let the bath experience soak into you at the garden.
Address: 6-27-14 Takinogawa, Kita, Tokyo Access: ・From Ueno: JR Yamanote line to Ikebukuro station, JR Saikyo line from Ikebukuro station to Itabashi station/ 6 minutes from Itabashi station ・From Shinjuku: JR Saikyo line/ 6 minutes from Itabashi station Hours: 2:50pm ~ 1:15am *Closed on Wednesday Fees: 460 yen Tel: +81 (0)3 3916-0523
Located in the middle of a neighborhood where old Tokyo still lives, Teikoku-yu has been in the lives of the local people since 1916. This building was built about 60 years ago.
Reference：Tokyo sento map
A huge mural with Mt. Fuji is a classic sento element. There are three different bath tubs; shallow, deep, and herbal. The wooden window flames show the long history of the building.
Reference：Tokyo sento map
The gorgeous wooden ceiling is the first thing that catches your eye in the changing room. On the contrary to the colorful bathroom, this room is rather classy-looking with the abundant use of polished wood. coin-op laundry machines and massage machines are available.
Reference：Tokyo bath house
Right outside the changing room is a cute little garden with a koi pond. You are welcome to relax and cool down after the bath on this nice deck by the garden. If you’d like, you are also free to go back to the bath one last time before leaving.
Address: 3-22-3 Higashinipporri, Arakawa, Tokyo Access: ・From Ueno: JR Joban line/ 6 minutes from Mikawashima station ・From Shinjuku: JR Yamanote line/ 14 minutes from Nippori station Hours: 3:00pm ~ 12:00am *Closed on Monday Fees: 460 yen Tel: +81 (o)3 3891-4637