A “Sento” is definitely a unique aspect of Japanese Culture.
A “Sento” (a public bathhouse) is a facility that offers fee-based bathing.
At the end of the Heian period (794-1185), a kind of Sento firstly appeared in Kyoto (ancient capital city).
In Edo period (1603-1868), the home bath at an each household was prohibited by the “Tokugawa Samurai Government” in order to prevent the fire.
Only “Daimyo” (Feudal Lord) were allowed to have a home bath.
Therefore, ordinary people had no alternative but to go to the public bath.
“Sento” also provided the people with the opportunity to communicate each other.
It has been an unique Japanese Culture that people have a communication by taking bath at a “Sento” for years.
“Sento” were constructed everywhere, especially after the World War II when the urban population increased to a significant extent.
As people have build home bath and many Sento have been remodeled for other uses, the number of Sento has been decreasing significantly.
As a result, the public bath which was 2,687 after the World War II decreased to 801 now throughout Japan.
Some of the Sento that had closed were remodeled into cafes and modern art galleries after their interiors were renovated.
On the other hand, we have recently seen a new type of Sento.
It is called “Health Spa” or “Super Sento” (large scaled deluxe public bath).
They are the leisure-type Sento which have recently actively constructed mainly in the suburbs.
Unlike an ordinary Sento, “Super Sento” has a variety of facilities such as Jacuzzi, sauna, open‐air bath, restaurant, barber shop, beauty salon, etc.
It may surprise you that there are several airport terminals which have a public bath in Japan !!!
This demonstrate that how much we Japanese love taking a bath !!!