How to take a bath in a Japanese sento

In February, we visited beautiful 銭湯せんとう (public baths) with our students. Have you ever been to one? Do you know the manners to follow when taking a bath in a Japanese sento? If you don’t want to make a ‘gaijin mess’, we recommend you reading this article!

Open between from 1 PM to 2 AM

Japanese public baths very often provide soap and shampoo and for a modest amount, you can rent a towel. You are also welcome to bring your own personal effect! Please check the calendar before going as they may have off days too.

After paying your entrance, you’ll enter the section for your gender. The entrances are marked with 暖簾のれん, curtains with different colors. Don’t confuse the kanji おとこ (man) and the kanji おんな (woman)! To help you finding your side, remember that blue is associated to men, while red or pink is for the women.

“Onsen” by kirainet is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The changing room

You’ll find baskets or lockers to store your clothes and valuables. Be sure you keep the key with you! Depending on sento, you’ll also find many amenities: hair dryers, scales, massage chairs, beauty products, etc.

“Men’s changing room” by Latenightpool is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

No swimwear!

Yes, you’ll have to be fully naked in order to enter in the bath area. Don’t be afraid, and just do as Japanese people. You can bring a small towel with you.

Wash your body, and rinse carefully. You should not enter the baths without washing yourself, as they are shared by everyone.

You’ll find many types of baths. Smallest sentos will only have a hot water tube, but some will offer very different baths, with various temperatures, and even outdoor ones!

You are ready to try your first Japanese bath? Check Tokyo-sento to find a great selection of Japanese public baths in Tokyo area!

Tips on Japanese Sentô

1. In Tokyo area, the fee entrance is fixed to 460 yens.

2. Don’t be surprised by the water temperature. Baths are between 41°C to 43°C in average. Elder people are advised not to take more than one or two baths per day in a sento.

3. As well, it’s always a good idea to drink water before going in and after taking your bath. If you feel dizzy, get out from the tube immediately! Don’t hesitate to reach for the help of the other customers.

4. Remember, baths are a place for relaxing! Curious people might want to talk to you so it is the perfect time to practice your Japanese!

Credit: Stephanie Crohin

Coto Japanese Academy is a unique Japanese Language School in Iidabashi Tokyo, we offer relaxed and fun conversational lessons for all levels of Japanese learner. Coto Japanese Academy prides itself on its community atmosphere and fun lessons that focus on creation of opportunities to speak and learn Japanese. If you are interested in studying Japanese in Tokyo – please visit our contact page here.


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