Sento around Kawaramachi

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.

About 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


  1. 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.


  1. Visit Sento.


  1. 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.


  1. Go to the counter. Please pay your fee to take a bath at the counter.


  1. 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.


  1. Please wash your body before taking a bath. You can bring a washcloth and you can use it to wash your body.


  1. Take a bath. (You must not immerse your washcloth in the shared bathing pool because everyone uses the pool to soak their body.)


  1. Please wipe and dry your body with a towel before going back to the changing room.


  1. Return to the changing room. Put on your clothes.


  1. 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.

The Great Sento of Kyoto: Nishiki-yu

by Ayaka Murai, Hikari Yanai & Daichi Hatakeyama

Most people spend their bath time only to take a bath and shower themselves. How do you want to enjoy your bath time? There is one traditional public bath here in the city of Kyoto called Nishiki-yu. A number of people really like to go to the public bath.  So, I would like to introduce about this great public bath.

image1 (1)

Sento is one of the cultures of Japan. Japanese people call the public bath sento. Nishiki-yu has a long history. It opened in 1927. It is in the center of Kyoto citiy’s, Nishiki market. Nishiki market is called the kitchen of Kyoto. The place is famous for tradition and culture in Kyoto. It is near Karasuma station on the Hankyu line. It takes only 5 minutes to walk to the public bath from the station. So, I recommend you take a train and walk to go to this public bath. Nishiki-yu is usually open from 16:00 to 24:00, but every Monday, it is closed.

noren When I visited there, there were Japanese shop curtains,noren, which are hung outside the entrance and has the shop’s name written on them. It seems that they change their color to deep blue during Gion-matsuri and New Year holidays. I would like to see the special noren. In addition, the outside is very tasteful. It is a three-storied, wooden building like the traditional Kyoto-style house called Machiya. Nishiki-yu has been featured in various magazines .

image2 In side this public bath is quite tasteful too. The bathtub is very hot for the first customer. The temperature is about 43 degrees. The bath is filled right up to the brim and spills over with new bathwater every time. So the bathwater is clear every time.

Regular customers of this public bath leave their basket at the changing room. It has their name written on the it. This basket is a traditional craft, and the price is about 40,000 yen. You can use the basket in this public bath, but you have to use this basket carefully, because of its high price. In addition, not anyone can make it anymore. However, sento visitors have decreased in Japan recently. So the owner set up some events to draw more guests to this public bath. For example, comic story telling party, music party, second hand book fair, Japanese summer cotton kimono on the spot sale party, and so on. You can also listen to jazz music only in this public bath in Japan. The manager, Mr. Hasegawa, likes music very much. He especially likes jazz music. He has a lot of CDs in his watch stand. As a result of these events, more tourists came to Nishiki-yu. I became popular for young people. Everyone can become friends in this public bath. Sometimes apprentice geisha, Maiko-san, come to this public bath. Maybe if you are lucky, you can meet one.


After taking a bath please go to Nishiki market. You can feel more Kyoto style. If you want to feel Kyoto in your bones and meet people who will be your friends, please go to Nishiki-yu.

Saganoyu – A Very Unusual Cafe

by Sayaka Matsuda and Kyoko Kiminami

outside the cafe

We have been looking into Kyoto cafes that foreigners would find interesting. Recently, we discovered a cafe that used to be a public bathhouse, or sento in Japanese. The cafe is called Saganoyu Cafe.

What is a Sento?

A sento is a kind of a public bathhouse in Japan. It is an institution where anyone can pay a small fee and take a bath. Sento have been an important part of Japanese social culture for a very long time. It is commonly said that the bathhouse is the place where children learn social manners. Sento, in one form or another, have existed in Japan for over 800 years.

There are many public bathhouses in Kyoto today the city is home to over thirty universities. That is why Kyoto is called the “student city.” So many students live in dormitories that do not have baths or showers. They support the many public bathhouses that are in Kyoto. Nowadays most Japanese people have baths in their homes, but many local people still love the public bath. Most public baths have many different kinds of baths: hot baths, jet baths, herb baths, electric baths and cold baths. Some even have saunas. So Public baths are also a good place to relax.

We focused on Saganoyu Café, which was once a public bathhouse. It was built about 100 years ago in Arashiyama. Inside, there are still karan (water taps), tairu (tiles), bathtubs and scales. So, not only foreigners but also Japaneses can feel excited by the strange atmosphere of this café.

From the outside, the appearance of the Saganoyu Café is in the style of a typical Japanese coffeehouse. But when we enter, there is a plant with beautiful leaves. The interior design and mood is Western.

Near the entrance is a corner that displays some souvenirs crackers made from miso.

* Miso shio snack (525 yen)

* Miso irigoma snack (525 yen)

* Miso kuroshichimi snack (525 yen)

When we went to the café, we sat by the window near the terrace. At center of the cafe are many tables and seats. All the windows are open, so the room always feels spacious. On the terrace, there was once an open-air bath. In front of the café kitchen, are clothing lockers left from the café’s bathhouse days. So it was charming!inside the cafe

Caution please! Taking photos of the interior and conducting interviews with the staff is prohibited.

The Menu


* Hot tomato sauce pasta — Eggplant and sausage (950 yen)

* Cream sauce pasta Cod roe and mushroom (950 yen)

* Japanese pasta — Peas and chicken (950 yen)

+ bread (150 yen), salad (300 yen)

+ topping: a raw egg (100 yen)


* Saganoyu curry (950 yen)

* Cheese curry (1,100 yen)

+ salad (300 yen)

+ topping: cheese (150 yen), a raw egg (100 yen)


* Arashiyama castella pudding (600 yen)

* Brownie Kyoto style (cacao 70%) (600 yen)

* Cramble apple tart (600 yen)

+ topping : fresh cream (100 yen), ice cream (150 yen)


* Green tea and black syrup parfait (700 yen)

* Green tea in jelly (650 yen)



* Saganoyu original blend coffee (500 yen)

* Cafe au lait — French style (580 yen)

* Cafe chocolate — French style (600 yen)


* Saganoyu original blend coffee/iced (600 yen)

* Iced cafe latte Saganoyu special (630 yen)

* Iced cafe chocolate — French style (700 yen)

+ topping: fresh cream (100 yen), Ice cream (150 yen)



* Darjeeling Morning Dew (650 yen)

* Dimbula the Earth (650 yen)

* Earl Grey Queen (650 yen)


* Iced Earl Grey tea (600 yen)


* Milk tea (650 yen)

* Island coconut milk tea (680 yen)


* Iced milk tea (680 yen)

* Iced island coconut milk tea (700 yen)

+ topping: fresh cream (100 yen), ice cream (150 yen)


* Green tea latte hot/ice (650 yen/ 680 yen)


* Rief (650 yen)

* Resort fragrance (650 yen)

* Pink fruits (650 yen)


* Squeeze fresh juice (orange or grapefruit) (750 yen)

* Gingerale Dry (500 yen)

* Tea soda (600 yen)

* Framboise squash (680 yen)

+ topping: ice cream (150 yen)

We went at lunchtime, so we ordered Saganoyu curry and tomato sauce pasta from the special lunchtime menu. It tasted great!

saganoyu vurrypasta

How to get to Saganoyu Café

Reaching the café takes 30 seconds by foot from Saga-Arashiyama Station. From the station, go right and you won’t miss it! There is a fishmonger across the street.

Also, Arashiyama is a famous Kyoto tourist spot, so we recommend taking a break from your sightseeing at this cafe