Who hasn’t dreamed of a nice warm bath? But in Japan, warm (I should say hot) baths are not only part of everyday life, they are an insititution!.

Unit bath“Honey, your bath’s boiling!” (あなた!お風呂がわいたよ! anata! O-furo ga waïta yo!). This helps to figure out how warm japanese baths are! (By the way, this expression was used a few years ago, when one used to boil water in a metal bath by making fire underneath; no, it’s not supposed to be a torture instrument!). The bath water is so hot that, after the whole family has taken a bath, it’s still warm enough to wash the laundry!

Although nowadays most households do have a bathtub at home (for even when space is lacking, one always has enough space for a “unit bath” ユニットバス), not so long ago, most people used to attend the public baths, the sentoh (銭湯). The athmosphere in the sentoh is very nice: there is usually more room than at home, Sento, japanese public bathwith a space to carefully wash ones body before plunging into hot water, and relax, not forgetting to exchange the latest gossips.

Recognizable to their high chemney, sentoh are still to be found today, especially in old towns. So you happen to find one, don’t hesitate to step in, you won’t be disappointed.