Admission Adults ¥2,634, children ¥1,944
There are two types of bath houses in Japan: onsen and sento. While there are obvious similarities between the two – they're both communal hot-water baths and visitors must adhere to certain rules of etiquette – there is one significant difference: onsen are filled with natural volcanic spring water, known for its rich and healing mineral content, while sento simply use heated tap water (although some do add minerals and infusions to the water). Most Tokyo bath houses offer a variety of facilities other than just the bath, for example they may have a sauna (we recommend trying out a ganban-yoku, or bedrock sauna, where you lie down on a large, heated stone), or a rotenburo (outdoor spring), whirlpool baths, electric baths or massage services.
Rooted in Japanese tradition, bath houses are still very much a part of daily living here, although sadly we're seeing more and more closing down since modern homes are now equipped with baths. Still, no-one's going to dispute the absolute heaven of stepping into a steaming healing bath, especially in the middle of winter. Which is why we've rounded up 10 of our favourites for you – nine of which are onsen, the other a sento – and divided them into price categories. Best thing is, unlike Western spas, a small entrance fee lets you stay in the bliss long past the skin-wrinkling stage. And if you're looking for a less urban experience, try our hot spring getaways guide.