Relieve stress with the soothing setting of a Japanese public bathhouse. 

While onsen hot springs rightfully get a lot of love from local and international travellers, the homely, down-to-earth warmth of a sento public bathhouse is often sadly overlooked. Used by locals on a daily basis, a leisurely soak at a sento is like taking a soak in the local culture, with bathers from the surrounding neighbourhood casually arriving and departing by foot or by bicycle, looking tired and weary-faced when they enter and refreshed and smooth-skinned when they leave.

Just thinking about a soak at the sento can conjure up feelings of warmth, and that warmth is something gacha toy maker Kenelephant now wants to spread far and wide with their latest range, called the Sento Miniature collection.

Produced with the approval of the National Bathhouse Association, these new items perfectly encapsulate the retro nostalgia sento are known and loved for, with five familiar items captured in miniature form.

▼ One of the items you might score in the range is a set of old-school bathing products and accessories.

▼ These teeny-tiny items include a bathing stool and bucket…

▼ …Merit shampoo and conditioner, in old-school bottles…

▼ …And a cute bar of Kao brand soap, complete with retro packaging.

▼ These are all public bathhouse staples.

A sento just isn’t a sento without a bath, and the one included in this range has all the old-school details you’d expect to find at any good public bathhouse.

▼ There’s the blue-and-white tiles…

▼ Ten-out-of-ten for realism here.

▼ …And the pièce de résistance…

▼ A painting of Mt Fuji on the wall!

Sento are famous for having painted walls that conjure up far-flung locations like Mt Fuji in the main bathing area. And just as the real murals help to relax bathers, the miniature version will also help to lower the stress levels of anyone who lays their eyes on the scene, making the collection perfect for desktops at work.

There are five items in the range, each priced at 500 yen (US$4.74). While we managed to get our hands on two of the hot items, there’s also a set of Tanaka scales with a wicker clothes basket, an Inada brand massage chair with a bottle of coffee milk, and a replica of the Daikokuyu bathhouse, often referred to as the “King of Sento”, located in Tokyo’s Adachi Ward.

▼ Daikokuyu

▼ There’s also a rare “lucky item” to be found: a figurine of Yuppo-kun, the mascot for the National Bathhouse Association (pictured top right below).

With so many Japanese residences now furnished with bathrooms, sento have sadly been declining over the years, making this range especially heartwarming. It’s nice to see the culture being preserved and celebrated in miniature form, and also in real life, as there are some old public bathhouses now being converted into izakaya restaurants, where you can sit and eat in the bathtub.

Related: Kenelephant
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