Whether you’re a backpacker looking to clean yourself up or just want to experience this aspect of traditional Japanese culture, hundreds of options are at your fingertips.
Public baths, or sento, as they’re called in Japanese, used to be an ubiquitous part of Japanese cityscapes. Since the 1950s, though, infrastructure advancements have made private bathing facilities a part of almost every modern residence in Japan, and as a result the number of operating sento has been steadily declining.
After taking a long look at the writing on the wall, some public baths have decided to call it quits and convert themselves into other sorts of businesses. However, there’s been an uptick in sento interest recently, with some young adults being drawn to their retro atmosphere and the affordable luxury of a quick soak without having to travel out of the urban environment.
So to make speedy sento forays more convenient, Japanese Twitter user @mangetsu1129 began compiling a list of all the sento, super sento (larger-scale public baths), day-use hot springs, and saunas in Tokyo.
ついに完成しました！！ 東京都のすべての銭湯、スーパー銭湯、日帰り温泉、サウナの情報をマップにまとめていました。たぶん初めて！ 都内２３区内、都下の市町村、伊豆諸島も追加し、約７００軒の最新営業情報がグーグルマップ上で見られます♨… twitter.com/i/web/status/8…—
まんげつ♨︎しっぽり湯めぐり (@mangetsu1129) February 05, 2017
Earlier this week, @mangetsu1129 announced that the list was complete, and contained information for roughly 700 facilities, covering not just within the 23 wards that make up central Tokyo, but also the cities, villages, and islands that are also officially part of Japan’s capital. And to make it easier to sort through all those sento, @mangetsu1129 has made the information available through Google maps.
Each location is shown by Japan’s traditional onsen (hot spring) mark (though not all sento source their waters from natural hot springs). Yellow marks indicate a sento, red marks a super sento, day-use hot spring, or sauna, and blue marks a facility that’s gone out of business or for some other reason isn’t currently in operation.
Clicking on a facility brings up a wealth of information in a column to the left of the map, including the sento’s name, address, hours of operation, and website. While prices are also listed for super sento and day-use hot springs, no mention of cost is given for regular sento, since almost all standard public baths in Tokyo have agreed to a uniform charge of 460 yen (US$4) for adults.
@mangetsu1129 plans to eventually expand the interactive sento map to a nationwide scale. For the time being though, if you’re interested in experiencing this part of traditional Japanese culture in Tokyo, you can find hundreds of options by firing up the sento Google map right here.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where hopefully he’ll have something clever to say as soon as he gets out of the bath.