I admit it: (a) I’m biased towards the Jakotsuyu Sento because it’s the closest public bath to my home and (b) it’s not really a “cheapo” choice since the prices are fixed by the Tokyo Sento Association at ¥460. But, I’m not the only one who should be biased—here are a few reasons why you should be too:
- It’s an actual onsen (hence the brownish water) right in the heart of Tokyo.
- It’s non-Japanese speaker friendly (the vending machine selling admission tickets and toiletries is in English).
- Tattoos are permitted.
- It’s close to at least four stations (Asakusa@Ginza and Asakusa Line, Tawaramachi@Ginza Line and Tsukuba Express).
- It’s been around since the Edo period (it doesn’t look it though; like everything in Tokyo it has been renovated several times), and its interior is typical (I prefer “classic”) with a mural of Mt. Fuji hovering over the main bathroom.
All of the above means Jakotsuyu Sento is a great introduction to the shame-free world of Japanese communal bathing!
Despite its hole-in-the-wall character (you’ll find it in a meandering alley off Sushiya Dori gallery, less than five minutes from the Kaminarimon Gate) Jakotsuyu offers several amenities like an “electric bath” mixing mild electrocution with water (no account for taste, right?); a couple of jet baths; and even a small open-air rotenburo (admittedly no spectacular vistas there—but you can see the sky).
What’s more, you’ll get a chance to see the locals in their natural habitat (and this being a sento, it doesn’t get any more natural), instead of serving the thousands of tourists that crowd Asakusa from early in the morning until late at night. Speaking of “late at night”, like most sento, Jakotsuyu sento is open until midnight and has a coin laundry attached to it in case your clothes also need a bath after a day of walking around the shrines and temples (and shops and restaurants) of the area. And if it’s summer, you can slip into your yukata afterwards –being what it’s been designed for, this is one of the few areas in Tokyo were you won’t look out of place wearing one!