Sento | Onsen | The Japanese Public Bath Culture

The public bathe in Japan is one of the important culture.
Therefor, it is a must to visit and experience this part of Japan.
Japanese public bath can be classified to two main part which is
Sento (public bath)  & Onsen ( hot spring),

Large public bath can be found n many urban neighbourhood and the one we visiting located beside our hostel which is Peacehouse Sakura Hostel, Kyoto. The existence of public bath is recorded far back to mid-eighth century when japanese began as free bath facilities for the community of people in resistance at large temple. In the Edo period (1603-1867), about 600 public baths become a socialised place for more than one million peole who lived in the city of Edo (Tokyo).

Japanese use the bath not only to clean up themselves bu to maintain their health by warming themselves up and stimulating their blood circulation. This is due to the four season climate in Japan.
Japanese love the public bathe because they can relax, recover from exhaustion and get rid of stress.
However, majority of the users are subjected to the elderly in public bathe.
( I guess you know the reason)

Sento (钱汤)is the Communal bath house that I am going to introduce today.
The traditional bath house generally very utilitarian where a tall barrier separating the sexes within 
one large room. The general layout of the bath house can be seen as the diagram below.

1) Take your shoe off at the door. You need to get off your shoe at the shoe locker (if there is any) before you enter the building.
2) Pay and enter. You can the entrance fee to the attendant or receptionist. Bear in mind, before entering the bath house, do check the session is belong to the guy or girl because my friend did enter the girl side. the men bath is marked with 男(otokoyu) on blue curtain and the women's bath is marked as 女 (onnayu) with red curtain.
p/s: If you forgot to bring towel or shower gel, you may purchase here.

3) Undress.  Normaly the attendant will give u the locker key after u pay the fee and you will find a row of locker where u can put your clothes inside the locker. Then you can lock the locker room and put the key around your wrist or ankle.

4) Wash yourself. This is crucial due to the hygiene issue. (You won't want others to share the bath water with you without washing their bodies too right.)

5) Hop in the bath. You can then pick a bath and sit in it as long as you want. You may also try the different bath.

6) Rinse. You may rinse your body when you are ready and done.

7) Wipe yourself and dress. You need to wipe yourself before entering the dressing area so that the water will not drip on the dressing area.

Sauna + Cold Bath
The Japanese bath culture that include sauna and cold bath
 has its special etiquette and procedure to follow.
The wrong procedure might cause the opposite effect to your body.
 ( Me and my friend experience this, better don't try this yourselve!)
There I introduce the standard approach to take the Japanese bathe after the fail attempt
of my first trial experience.

1) Rinse yourself. It is important to rinse yourself before you enter the sauna room so that the body can get used to the environment and to clean up your body too.

2) Sauna.  You may stay for up to 5 minutes or more inside the room where you can set the timer yourself.

3) Cold bath. This is the most important steps where you should hop into the cold bath right after you come out from sauna so that you can cold down your body.

4) Wash yourself. Same goes to the normal bath where you need to clean your body before entering the public bath.

5) Hot bath. Jacuzzi. Now you can choose to enter different type of bath you want and you can experience it as long as you want.

6) Rinse. The following the steps will be same as the above where u rinse again before you go out.

7) Wipe yourself and dress

If you ever come to Japan,
do remember to experience this special part of Japanese culture if possible!
Enjoy !