Sento: Japanese Public Bath Is Getting Popular Among Foreign Tourists
Being naked is always nice for some people. In Japan there are a lot of public bath houses called sento. Sento is getting very popular for foreign tourists now, because it's a place for relaxing, talking frankly, and feeling free.
Sento is a type of Japanese communal bath house where customers pay for entrance. It usually costs around 4USD. Japanese people love bathing and sento. It's different from onsen, which uses hot water from a natural hot spring. These communal bath houses have been decreasing in numbers, as more and more Japanese residences are being built with baths. These days, however, they are getting more popular for travelers from other countries. image: m-louis .®
Otoko-yu, Onna-yu / 男湯, 女湯
I'm sorry to you dudes expecting you can take a bath with girls, but of course it's separated. Otoko-yu is for men, and onna-yu is for women. Usually, there is a sign which says otoko(男) and onna(女). You should remember it so you don't get arrested if you want to try sento.
How to take a bath at sento
Since it's communal, there are some rules and manners for taking a bath at sento. It's not complicated at all. Here is a video about it.
Recommended sento in Tokyo
There are a lot of sento in Tokyo, and I recommend to go those three sento if you have a chance.
Shimizu-yu is located in Omotesando, which is very close to Shibuya. Although it has more than 100 years history, it was renovated in 2009. It has a big jacuzzi bath and two sauna rooms.
2. Togoshi Ginza Onsen
This sento is popular for people located in Togoshi Ginza. It is a kind of onsen because this sento uses natural hot spring water, which is believed to make people feel better.
Miyagi-yu is located in Shinagawa. It's a three story building. First and second floors have big bath rooms. Otoko-yu and onna yu are switched every week. Some weeks, otoko-yu is 3rd floor, and it goes to 1st floor for the next week. Here is a Japanese sento curating web site. Sorry, it's in Japanese, but there's so much information there if you want to translate it.