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Travel, Teach, Live in Japan

How to Visit a Japanese Public Bath

The Japanese bath house is commonly referred to as the sento. The sento means cleanliness, togetherness and nakedness. The sento is a daily tradition in Japanese culture and doesn't have the aura of taboo that many Americans might expect. A Japanese public bath is a tradition that you should experience if you're visiting Japan and want to understand their culture.

Visit Tokyo or Osaka for some of the best Japanese bath houses. In Tokyo, you can visit the Oedo-Onsen Monogatari or the Hakone for hot springs bath in the traditional form. The city of Osaka has the Spa World; Shima Bay has Thalassa Shima, two upper end Japanese bath houses that still operate in full force.

Remove your shoes. The first thing you need to do when you visit a Japanese public bath is to always remove your shoes.

Bring your own towel, soap and shampoo. You can, of course, buy these products at a Japanese public bath. But it's best to save yourself money and bring it yourself.

Walk into the public bath and look for your gender's public bath area. Once you're in the mens or women's public bath area, find a locker to store your clothing.

Shower and clean your body completely. Remove all the soap and dirt from your body. Be sure to rinse all the shampoo from your hair, too.

Slip into the Japanese public bath and relax. The Japanese bath house is meant to relax your body and your mind in hot water. You can also socialize with the locals or other tourists if you'd like. Most public baths have tubs of varying temperatures: tepid or warm.

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