Few countries in the world have embraced bathing to the level that Japan has. Inspired by the many natural hot springs (onsen) found around, designers have continuously developed baths at competing inns (ryokan) and bathhouses (sento) for well over a millennium. The fruits of these labors can still be found today in the incredibly relaxing Japanese tubs often referred to as ofuro.

Iacopo Torrini is an Italian architect who works with Japanese ofuro craftsmen selling these traditional tubs all over the world. However, as you might imagine, buying handcrafted bathtubs internationally can be a pricey ordeal. Knowing this, Torrini feels he has come up with a way to affordably and accurately recreate the ofuro experience in any tub, which he calls Pocket Onsen.

Pocket Onsen is made up of three hinoki orbs and a 10mL bottle of hinoki essential oil to provide both the textural and aromatic experience of an ofuro. Similar bath products exist but Pocket Onsen takes it to another level by using an entirely new kind of oil… or should I say “old kind.”

Regular hinoki oil comes from commercial trees around 40 years old, but Pocket Onsen’s oils are taken from shavings of 250 to 300 year old trees over a six-month period. Before you go crying bloody herbicide, these trees were not cut down and great care is taken in sustaining them for centuries to come. The process to make the oil can be seen in the following video.

As shown, the result is a thicker and richer smellinghinoki oil without additives. A PocketOnsen from Torrini’s company Bartok Design will cost you around US$60, but by making a pledge on their Indiegogo crowdfunding page you can get one for only $38 and support their efforts to mass produce Pocket Onsen in the future.

Or if you happen to have the funds you could always pledge $3,900 dollars and get a Pocket Onsen along with an authentic hand-crafted ofuro! I guess you could use them together and be like, double relaxed.

The clock is ticking on the crowdfunding which ends on 26 September, but if you happen to read this too late you can always try to get the remaining supplies through the Bartok Design website. It’d be an affordable way to help support traditional Japanese craftsmen who are constantly in danger of fading away in modern Japan.


Pocket Onsen Crowdfunding page on Indiegogo (English/Japanese)

Bartok Design (English)

▼  A personal appeal from Bartok Design founder Iacopo Torrini