Yudonburi Sakaeyu

Best tattoo-friendly sento in Tokyo

Got ink? These welcoming bathhouses won't mind

Written by
Time Out Tokyo Editors
Advertising

Tattoos are still taboo when it comes to sento (communal bathhouse) culture in Japan. While they are seen as an expression of individuality in other parts of the world, Japanese society at large still equates this form of body art with the yakuza. Unless your tattoo is small enough to cover up, chances are you'll be refused entry — except at these ink-friendly bathhouses. 

Tattoo-friendly sento

  • Things to do
  • City Life

Long-standing sento Matsumoto-yu in Nakano turned into a modern bathhouse following a major renovation for the first time in its 85-year history. You’ll have a chance to soak in different kinds of baths, including one with bright pink water infused with herbs that are used in kampo (traditional Japanese medicine). There are also jet-massage baths, plus a lukewarm bath (25-30 degrees Celsius) and a cold bath (15-17 degrees Celsius). After you’ve had a relaxing soak, break a sweat in Matsumoto-yu’s classic dry stone sauna or its steam sauna made with special tiles, which is said to help your body recover faster. 

  • Health and beauty
  • Kinshicho

Once a humble, traditional neighbourhood sento, Koganeyu was transformed into a modern public bathhouse in 2020, complete with a craft beer taproom by the entrance that doubles as a DJ booth.

Rent your towel at the bar and head inside for a relaxing dip. Baths are separated by gender, but both areas share a mural of Mt Fuji by artist Yoriko Hoshi. To improve your blood circulation, you can alternate between baths in different temperatures, ranging from lukewarm to hot. You’ll also find an open-air cold plunge pool to cool down after using the sauna.

Advertising
Kugahara-yu
  • Things to do
  • Ota

Opened 60 years ago and recently renovated, Kugahara-yu sports a majestic Mt Fuji mosaic on its feature wall. The men’s and women’s sections are decorated with different colour schemes (representing the moon and the sun), but you’ll experience both as the bathhouse rotates the changing rooms every two weeks.

At Kugahara-yu, you can expect a spacious bath with massage jets, warm carbonated bath (from where you can watch TV), hot bath, cold bath, outdoor bath with black onsen water as well as steam and dry sauna. Despite its less than convenient location, the bathhouse is usually packed with families and kids – in part thanks to its 'junior days' when children enjoy special discounts.

  • Health and beauty
  • Ginza

This bathhouse first opened in Ginza in 1863, towards the end of the Edo period (1603-1867), and it hasn't made much effort to update its retro styling since. There's an old-fashioned reception desk on the way in, plus an impressive mural of Kutani porcelain tiles depicting carp, spring and autumn flowers and birds, which you can enjoy while soaking in the tub. There are two baths, one pleasantly warm and the other heated to a fairly toasty 42 degrees Celsius. Twice a month they sprinkle flowers into the baths, so it's worth checking the website before you go.

Advertising
  • Health and beauty
  • Saunas and baths
  • Nerima

Sento in Tokyo are famed for their Mt Fuji murals, but the ultra-modern Hisamatsu-yu takes it one step further by featuring a project mapping display instead, which you can marvel at while soaking in the natural hot spring bath. This remarkable concept was honoured with the Good Design Award back in 2015. An outdoor bath and sauna are also available. 

  • Health and beauty
  • Spas
  • Togoshi-Ginza

Togoshi Ginza is a traditional bathhouse in a modern setting, and it’s very well equipped too: you’ll find a natural onsen and sauna, plus an open-air bath made from Japanese cypress. The interiors are adorned with two different drawings of Mt Fuji, creating contrasting atmospheres on the two sides of the bathhouse. One is a traditional painting of the sacred mountain by veteran Japanese painter Nakajima Morio; the other is a more modern interpretation by graffiti-artist duo Gravityfree, depicting Mt Fuji and the Seven Gods of Good Fortune. 

Advertising
Mikoku-yu
  • Health and beauty
  • Spas
  • Ryogoku

Located near Honjo-Azumabashi Station in Asakusa, Mikoku-yu underwent an extensive renovation in 2015. The semi open-air baths were increased in size; the property also installed tubs made from Japanese cypress while making its facilities accessible to disabled people. Best of all, Mikoku-yu offers family-style baths, where spacious bathrooms can be rented whole and enjoyed by those needing special care together with their families. Natural bathwater baths (or kuro-yu) are also available – and you can adjust the temperature to your liking. 

  • Health and beauty
  • Saunas and baths
  • Gakugei-Daigaku

Ten minutes’ walk away from Gakugei-daigaku station in Meguro, this sento offers a variety of bathrooms on its first and second floors, and the male and female baths are switched on a daily basis. On the first floor there is a high-temperature sauna scented with Japanese cypress, while you’ll find a ‘salt sauna’ on the second floor, where the lower temperature melts the salt that’s spread over your skin. The facility also has an outdoor medicinal bath that incorporates herbs from around the world. 

Advertising
Yudonburi Sakae-yu
  • Health and beauty
  • Saunas and baths
  • Minowa

Yudonburi Sakae-yu in Minowa is known for its large and fully-equipped warm-bath facility, which was revamped and renovated in 2017. You’ll be glad to know that this bathhouse provides lockers and parking for cars and bikes. Best of all, there are three types of bath here – medicinal, jet and electric – plus a sauna, too. 

More on Tokyo's bathhouse culture

Recommended
    You may also like
    You may also like
    Advertising