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Sunday, Oct. 7, 2001

Tokyo in a tub


Staff writer

There was a time when virtually every city neighborhood had a public bathhouse. Those days are over, but the soothing waters haven't completely dried up. Here in Tokyo, there is a variety of sento from which to choose. And if traditional bathhouses aren't up to your standards, you can try kenkoland (literally, "health land") or supasento, essentially value-added sento featuring everything from gyms to cafes to putting greens.

Ofuro no O-sama at Higashi-Kurume

Traditional sento cost 400 yen for adults, 180 yen for elementary school children and 80 yen for children under 6 years; prices at kenkoland and supasento vary. Usually at both types, you can stay as long as you like and it's best to bring your own towels, soap and shampoo.

First-timers note that guests are expected to wash before entering the bath and to refrain from taking wash towels into the bath.

Sento

Ogi no Yu -- This sento is equipped with exercise equipment and a jacuzzi. Murals on the bathhouse walls are painted by members of the public and replaced every three years.

Ogi no Yu, 3-46-13 Ogikubo, Suginami Ward, a 10-minute walk from Ogikubo Station on the Chuo Line. Open 4 p.m.-1 a.m. on weekdays; 3 p.m.-midnight on 1st and 3rd Sundays; 4 p.m.-midnight on the 2nd and 4th Sundays. Closed Monday. Tel. (03) 3392-3753.

Tsuru no Yu -- This sento is built in the style of temples with paneled ceilings. The bathhouse walls feature paintings of Mount Fuji and the sea.

Tsuru no Yu, 3-1-21 Kitamachi, Kichijoji, Musashino, a 10-minute bus ride from Kichijoji Station on the Chuo and Keio Inokashira lines. Open 4 p.m.-midnight. Closed Friday. Tel. (0422) 51-6939.

Jindai-yu -- A jacuzzi, Chinese herbal bath, open-air bath and sauna are among the delights on offer here -- as well as draft beer at 450 yen.

Jindai-yu, 1-13-1 Kikunodai, Chofu, a 1-minute walk from Shibasaki Station on the Keio Line. Open 2 p.m.-midnight. Closed Wednesday (unless it's a holiday, when it's closed the next day instead). Tel. (0424) 89-2641.

Daikoku-yu -- The exterior of this sento has been unchanged since the early Showa Era, though the interior is being renovated. The changing room has a picture-paneled ceiling.

Daikoku-yu, 32-6 Kotobuki-cho, Senju, Adachi Ward, a 10-minute walk from Kita Senju Station on the Joban and Tobu Isezaki train lines and the Chiyoda and Hibiya subway lines. Open 3 p.m.-midnight. Closed Monday. Tel. (03) 3881-3001.

Miyagi-yu -- This features both black- and clear-water baths. There are also jacuzzis, an iwa-buro (rock baths) and an open-air bath on the roof. Snacks are available in the rest areas.

Miyagi-yu, 2-18-11 Nishi-Shinagawa, Shinagawa Ward, a 5-minute walk from Shimoshinmei Station on the Tokyu Oimachi Line. Open 1 p.m.-2 a.m. Closed the 3rd Thursday of the month. Tel. (03) 3491-4856.

Koshi no Yu -- This sento features large baths and is located in the same building as the Azabu Juban Onsen (see related story).

Koshi no Yu, 1-5-22 Azabu Juban, Minato Ward, a 5-minute walk from Azabu Juban Station on the Nanboku and Oedo subway lines, or a 10-minute walk from Roppongi Station on the Hibiya and Oedo subway lines. Open 3 p.m.-11:30 p.m. Closed Tuesday. Tel. (03) 3401-8324.

Supasento and kenkoland

Freizeit Fuchu "Yu no Kuni Japon" -- Nine different kinds of baths, including a jacuzzi, an open-air bath made of Japanese cypress and a bath where you walk over stones to improve circulation. There is also an esthetic room for foot care and facial massages, four kinds of saunas, a restaurant, and a rest area with aromatherapy, music and soothing videos.

Freizeit Fuchu, 1-27-1 Miyanishi-cho, Fuchu City, a 5-minute walk from Fuchu Station on the Keio Line. Parking available. Open 10 a.m.-midnight. Closed on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month. Tel. (042) 340-5226.

1,800 yen for those over junior high school age, 900 yen for children from age 3 to elementary school age.

Ofuro no Osama -- Both branches (at Higashi-Kurume and Hikarigaoka) have more than 15 types of baths, including a "silk bath" filled with micro aqua jets, an iwa-buro and a sauna. Also available, akasuri (body scrubbing) and aroma massage room, a hairdresser (in Higashi-Kurume), cafe and ozashiki tatami-floored relaxation room.

Ofuro no Osama Higashi-Kurume branch, 3-14-4 Hachiman-cho, Higashi Kurume, a 13-minute bus ride from Higashi Kurume Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line. Open 10 a.m.-1 a.m., year-round. Tel. (0424) 79-2603.

Ofuro no Osama Hikarigaoka branch, 3-14-22 Akatsuka Shinmachi, Itabashi Ward, a 10-minute walk from Akatsuka on the Yurakucho subway line; Narimasu on the Yurakucho subway and Tobu Tojo lines; and Shimo Akatsuka Station on the Tobu Tojo Line. Open 11 a.m.-3 a.m. Monday to Friday; 10 a.m.-3 a.m. on Saturday; and 10 a.m.-1 a.m. on Sunday and holidays. Tel. (03) 3938-0123.

600 yen for adults, 300 yen for elementary school students, 200 yen for children aged 3-6, and free for those under 3. On Saturday, Sunday and public holidays, 700 yen for adults, 350 yen for students, and 250 yen for those 3-6. Massages and akasuri extra. Membership and parking available.

Tokyo Kur by Tokyo Onsen -- This sauna-spa is for men only. It features baths, a mist sauna, jacuzzi, a reclining bath with micro aqua jets and a relaxation lounge. Akasuri and massages are available.

Tokyo Kur by Tokyo Onsen, 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda Ward, just outside Tokyo Station. Open 6 a.m.-11 p.m., year-round. Tel. (03) 3212-2681. 2,100 yen (6 a.m.- 9 a.m.), 2,300 yen (9 a.m.-11 p.m.); 40-minute massage 3,000 yen, akasuri 2,600 yen (both till 9 p.m.)


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