November 25, 2019
By Kensei Iizuka and Takanori Tsuhako
Kawaramachi is one of the most bustling places in Kyoto. There are various kinds of shops so you can enjoy shopping and eating. However, there is a way that you can feel Japanese culture and rest your body, too. That is Sento.
Sento is the Japanese traditional public bath. Originally, it came with Buddhism from India through China and it was said that bathing can prevent illness and bring good fortune. One of the most characteristic things in a sento is the painting on the wall. That is why you can enjoy the picture like Mount Fuji or other Japanese traditional scenes while you are taking a bath. Now, there are 150 Sento in Kyoto. These are 4 Sento around Kawaramachi and some customs to follow when you use a Sento.
How to use Sento
- Bring your own towel, soap, shampoo, and conditioner. It is possible to rent a towel at the sento, but of course, it costs extra money. You can save money if you bring a towel. Some Sentos also have soap, shampoo, and conditioner for sale, however, others do not. So, bring them when you visit Sento.
- Visit Sento.
- Take off your shoes. Please take off your shoes and put the shoes into the shoe locker after entering the Sento. Please keep the key when you are at the Sento.
- Go to the counter. Please pay your fee to take a bath at the counter.
- Take off your clothes at the changing room. There are some lockers at the changing room. Please take off your clothes and put into the locker with a key.
- Please wash your body before taking a bath. You can bring a washcloth and you can use it to wash your body.
- Take a bath. (You must not immerse your washcloth in the shared bathing pool because everyone uses the pool to soak their body.)
- Please wipe and dry your body with a towel before going back to the changing room.
- Return to the changing room. Put on your clothes.
- Then, put on your shoes, and leave the Sento.
The nearest station is Karasuma-Oike. From Karasuma-Oike station, head north and go one block on Karasuma Dori. Then, head to East, go three blocks, and you will see Hatsune-yu. It is a white building which is European style. Hatsune-yu is a clean Sento. Inside of the Sento is bright. You can hear some J-POP music.
Opening hours are 15:00 to midnight and the regular holiday is Tuesday.
The nearest station is Kyoto City Hall. The sento is located at northwest of it. You can see some bright neon signs in kanji of Tamano-yu. It is a simple structured building and has a big shop curtain, called noren, with its emblem and name hung at the entrance. The characteristic of this Sento is cozy.
Opening hours are 15:00 to midnight, and a regular holiday is Sunday.
The nearest station is Shijo or Karasuma station. If you take the subway, the closest exit is 6. If you take Hankyu Railway, the closest exit is 25. Climb up the stairs to the street level, and head South from the station. Then, head West of Takatsuji Street. After crossing Nishino-Toin Street, go one block and head South, and you can find Hakusan-yu. The appearance of this Sento looks new and clean. The characteristic of this Sento is that it has two round shaped bathtubs.
Opening hours are 15:00 to midnight (Sunday: 7:00 to midnight), and a regular holiday is Saturday.
Nearly every visitor to Kyoto City will visit Nishiki Market. This Sento is near Nishiki Market. The type of the building is machiya, which is a traditional merchant house in Japan. The temperature of the water is high, so be careful when taking a bath, please. At Nishiki-yu, music concert, rakugo, used book selling, yukata selling, and other events are held sometimes. You can also enjoy activities at inside Nishiki-yu.
Opening hours are 16:00 to midnight, and a regular holiday is Monday.
There are a lot of Sentos in Kyoto City, especially around Kawaramachi. It is convenient to visit Sento after walking around Kawaramachi. You should check regular holidays and opening hours before visiting a Sento. Each Sento has different characteristics. Please compare them and choose one that you would like to visit. Don’t forget to bring a towel and a change of clothes. Visiting a Sento is better than taking shower at your hotel because your physical and mental fatigue will be got over with a visit to a Sento and by taking a bath. Visiting a Sento when you visit Kawaramachi is a great part of a Kyoto experience.