Bathhouses of Kansai: Retro Tiled Dreamscapes

Bathhouses of Kansai: Retro Tiled Dreamscapes


Sento are usually family-run  public baths dating back centuries, which grew in popularity due to limited home bathing facilities, reaching over eighteen thousand by 1968. Unlike onsens, they typically lack natural spring water.  Sento also offers the opportunity for casual conversations with fellow visitors and, providing insights into the local community's everyday life, often hidden from the usual traveler.

Like most bathhouses, the places introduced below observe certain etiquette rules, such as bathing nude (segregated by gender) and washing thoroughly before entering the communal baths. If that’s not your jam, and you prefer to enjoy the vibe while clothed, scroll down to the bottom of the page where we’ll show you places to enjoy it for the art and even a converted cafe!

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Chidori Onsen - Osaka
Opened in 1952, this bathhouse features a stunning mosaic of a countryside and Mt. Fuji, offering comfort-focused bathing with a spacious, shallow tub ideal for children. Plus, enjoy a complimentary sauna. Sauna is available free of charge.

Senkouyu - Hyogo
This "night view" is actually a meticulously crafted tile painting depicting the port town's skyline, including the iconic port tower and buildings, with light reflecting on the sea. Unveiled in 1965 to celebrate the completion of Kobe Port Tower.

Kasamatsuyu - Hyogo
A large, inviting bathtub sits in the center of the room, with a deep front and shallow back, surrounded by tiles that create an extraordinary ambiance. Admire the charming, pastel-colored European-style mural depicting a mountain vista from a lake.

Myogetsuyu - Hyogo
The Myogetsuyu bathhouse exudes a whimsical, fairytale-like ambiance. A highlight is the mosaic tile adorned with animals between the men's and women's baths. The flower-patterned tiles on the bathtub steps and lower area add to the soothing atmosphere. Located near the sea, the bathhouse is frequented by fishermen who, in the past, used heavy oil to heat water until switching to gas due to kettle issues. Cold drinks are available post-bathing for refreshment.

Shirahama no Yu - Hyogo
A few years ago, the business was in danger of closing. When the owner put up a notification of possible closure, many bathhouse fans spread the word via social media to come save it. Encouraged by the many requests to reopen the business, it was renovated and brought back to life. Enjoy the  stylish argyle-patterned tile floor of the bathroom at this beloved bathhouse.

I Love Yu Bathhouse - Naoshima
"I Love Yu" is an art facility by Shinro Ohtake where visitors can bathe amidst the artist's universe. Operated by the  Naoshima Town Tourism Association, it features Ohtake's art throughout, from the bath and wall decorations to mosaics and toilet fittings. Immerse yourself in art with a full-body experience.


Not into bathhouses and public bathing? No worries! You can still enjoy the retro vibes and pastel tiles of this revamped spot... without having to strip down!

Art Cafe Shimizu Onsen - Shikoku
A 100 year old bathhouse turned into an art gallery and cafe. Inside the quirky "Art Cafe Shimizu Onsen," you'll discover an array of fascinating items like original capsule toys, quirky figurines, and cute souvenirs like keychains and stickers. While they have food, they also serve coffee with milk in tubs with ice, a nostalgic throwback to past public bathhouses. The store features various seating options, with the tiled bathtub being a particularly popular choice, evoking the cozy feeling of soaking in a bathhouse.


 While research was done by us, drafting of the descriptions was crafted with assistance from GPT-3, OpenAI's large-scale language-generation model. While GPT-3 generated draft language, we reviewed, edited, and revised the content to align to our preferences and take responsibility for the content.