When coming to Japan, there’s a wealth of things to do and see–even just staying within the Tokyo city limits, you’d be hard pressed to enjoy everything available in a week. On the other hand, if you just stick with the big sightseeing spots, you’ll be both crushed by crowds and probably bored in a few days. This has left a lot of overseas tourists with time–and incentive–to look for new or unique activities.

One of the things apparently gaining popularity is sento, or public bathhouses. While not quite as much fun as hanging out in hot springs in the mountains with monkeyssento still provide a fun and different activity for anyone just looking to relax. The warm waters are especially welcome after a few days running around Tokyo! But you might want to check this handy guide before you head out for a soak in order to avoid annoying other bathers.

▼Ota Ward Public Bathhouses


Though bathhouses are by no means unique to Japan, the culture around them can be a bit different. While most customs are pretty obvious and can be gleaned by carefully watching how others act, it’s always helpful to have a clear, concise guide. And that’s exactly what the Ota City Association of Public Bathhouse has produced!

With the most bathhouses in Tokyo, Ota Ward is the perfect place for anyone interested in slipping into a sento. Hoping to make things easier for everyone involved, the ward has created a “get started in the bathhouse guide.” The guide is available in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean and can be found at The site isn’t exactly new–it has actually been online since 2009 (and looks like it was made in 1999)–but it is helpful!

In addition to providing details about common customs in Japanese sento, the website also features this guide of things not to do:


The association has also produced a video guide, complete with awkward actors being awkward and naked. Though it’s not a big-budget Hollywood production, it certainly is helpful.

But perhaps the most useful part of the website is the directory of bathhouses in Ota Ward, which allows you to search by facilities, map, or photos of sento entrances.

The rules are hardly difficult to remember and a soak in a sento is actually one of the cheaper ways to kill time in Tokyo–all Ota Ward bathhouses have the same entry fee of 460 yen (about US$4.50).

So if you’re exhausted after sprinting from one tourist photo opportunity to the next, why not find a sento and wash your soreness away.

Just remember to take off your underwear before you get in!

Sources: Japaaan, Ota10101, YouTube
Images: Nagoyashi Igai no SentoOta10101, YouTube