Using the Sento in Kyoto:
An introduction to public bathhouses
along the Keihan and Eizan Railway lines

Bathing at the sento, or public bathhouse, is a time-honored tradition in Japan.
Unlike hot springs, which are common in outlying areas in Japan,
sento are located in towns and have long been an important part of daily life,
where they offered a forum for community interaction as well as a good soak.
As bathtubs have become more common in homes, sento use has declined,
but the image of the the public bathhouse remains deeply rooted in Japanese culture.
In Japan, the giant baths of the sento are associated with relaxing after hard work or exercise,
and the sento is always a great backup plan if the home bath is under repair.

When visiting Japan, consider trying out one of these sento along the Keihan and Eizan Railway lines and experience this facet of Japanese culture.
The sento is an excellent way to wash away your fatigue at the end of a long day of sightseeing!

Basic Sento Manners

The sento is first and foremost a place where locals gather to bathe.
Observing some basic rules when using a sento will make a favorable impression and be greatly appreciated.

The customary rules for sento and hot springs (onsen) are essentially the same.
Some bathing facilities may have special rules,
which you can find by looking at posters and signs inside the facilities.

Note: Most sento and hot springs do not allow people with tattoos to enter.
If you have a tattoo, inquire in advance.

  • While you may see images or videos of people at a sento with a towel wrapped around them, this is purely for the sake of decency in media. In the sento, complete nudity is normal and expected.

  • When you enter the sento after removing your clothes in the locker room, begin by washing your body at one of the seat shower stations. The bath is a shared space, so be sure to clean yourself thoroughly before enjoying a leisurely soak.

  • The sento is a community facility for local people, not a tourism facility. Loud voices, running, and other disruptive behavior should be avoided.

  • Because the changing rooms will have many people in various states of undress, it is better to refrain from picture-taking or using your smartphone. If you wish to take pictures of a part of the facility, check with sento staff first.

Map

Keihan Railway

There are some great sento along the Keihan Railway.
After a full day of sightseeing, take a trip to one of these steamy oases to wipe away your fatigue.

The Higashiyama Area

Chion-in Temple, Yasaka Shrine, and Kiyomizu-dera Temple are, along with the Gion district, some of the top destinations for any visitor to Kyoto. In fact, Kyoto is so full of famous attractions, you need not walk far before you will recognize some prominent location from your guidebook. But, if you deviate from the beaten tourist path just a bit, you will find a different side of the city filled with a unique atmosphere found nowhere else in the world.

  • 1Higashiyamayu

    Demachiyanagi
    [KH42]

    This sento is recommended to music aficionados, particularly those with a love for the Beatles. Right inside the door, guests are greeted by a poster of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Western music is played in the sauna, with a dedicated Beatles time slot late at night. Definitely worth a trip.

    Address: 27 Tanaka Monzen-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
    About a seven-minute walk from Demachiyanagi Station

    Business hours: weekdays – 15:20 to 1:00, weekends – 15:00 to 1:00

    Closed: Fridays

    Nearby tourist attraction:
    Shimogamo Shrine (20 min. on foot)

  • 2Eiseiyu

    Demachiyanagi
    [KH42]

    Eiseiyu is a sento located near the World Heritage Site Shimogamo Shrine. Although the sento building has almost a century of history, the inside has been remodeled and has a clean feel. For a meal after your bath, check out one of the many delicious restaurants in the immediate vicinity. An additional attraction is the garden next to the entrance.

    Address: 1 Shimogamo-Kashiwabe, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
    About a 20-minute walk from Demachiyanagi Station

    Business hours: 15:00 to 23:30

    Closed: Mondays

    Nearby tourist attraction:
    Shimogamo Shrine (10 min. on foot)

  • 3Sakurayu(near the Kyoto Imperial Palace)

    Jingu-Marutamachi
    [KH41]

    A traditional Kyoto sento that opened in 1919, Sakurayu retains traces of that era. A well-known feature of this sento is a bathtub with live goldfish that swim around you. The Kyoto Imperial Palace is located just to the west, and the Kamogawa River flows to the east. After a day of sightseeing, Sakurayu is a convenient place to gather.

    Address: 454 Nakamachi-dori Maruta-machi Agaru Tawaraya-cho, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
    About a four-minute walk from Jingu-Marutamachi Station

    Business hours: 16:30 to 24:00

    Closed: Wednesdays

    Nearby tourist attraction:
    Kyoto Imperial Palace (10 min. on foot)

  • 4Tamanoyu

    Sanjo
    [KH40]

    Located near Kyoto City Hall and close to the Kamogawa River and the Kyoto Imperial Palace, Tamanoyu is frequented by joggers who come to run in the area nearby. Truly, this sento is an institution woven deep into the community fabric.

    Address: 401 Oshikoji-dori Goko-machi Nishiiru Kameya-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
    About a 11-minute walk from Sanjo Station

    Business hours: 15:00 to 24:00

    Closed: Sundays

    Nearby tourist attraction:
    Kyoto Imperial Palace (15 min. on foot)

  • 5Yanagiyu

    Sanjo
    [KH40]

    This sento is located along Hanami Lane (Hanami-Koji), Gion’s main thoroughfare. Add this to the end of your sightseeing itinerary for a memorable close to your day in Gion.

    Address: 332 Shinyanagi-no Banba-dori Niomon Sagaru Kikuhoko-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
    About a four-minute walk from Sanjo Station

    Business hours: 16:30 to 23:45

    Closed: Mondays and Tuesdays

    Nearby tourist attraction:
    Yasaka Shrine (10 min. on foot)

  • 6Umeyu

    Kiyomizu-gojo
    [KH38]

    This sento is unusual in that it holds DJ-hosted shows and other fun events that are not typically seen inside a bathhouse. People with tattoos are also permitted to enter. With the Takase-gawa River nearby, the sento is in a district where the Kyoto of the past can be enjoyed.

    Address: 175 Iwataki-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
    About a seven-minute walk from Kiyomizu-gojo Station

    Business hours: 14:00 to 2:00,
    morning bath on weekends: 6:00 to 12:00

    Closed: Thursdays

    Nearby tourist attraction:
    Sanjusangen-do Temple (15 min. on foot)

Click here for great tourist attractions
in the Higashiyama area

The Fushimi and Chushojima area

Known for its high-quality water, the Fushimi and Chushojima area is home to a number of fine sake breweries, and the brewery buildings form a very Japanesque townscape. Whether visiting Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine or looking for fine tea in Uji, Fushimi and Chushojima make for a great trip.

  • 7Shinchiyu

    Chushojima
    [KH28]

    Located right next to Chushojima Station, Shinchiyu is easy to find. The symmetrical stone construction is an attractive architectural feature. Check out the murals on the walls inside the bath, which include a coastal view and a bamboo grove.

    Address: 4-31 Minami Shinchi, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
    About a one-minute walk from Chushojima Station

    Business hours: 16:00 to 23:00

    Closed: Mondays

    Nearby tourist attraction:
    Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum (five min. on foot)

  • Mini-column

    What do I need to take when I go to the sento?
    · Entrance fee in cash (see below)
    · A change of clothes
    · Two towels: one for washing and one for drying. Some sento provide on-site towels for free or a small price.
    · Shampoo, conditioner, and soap
    · (if desired) Makeup remover, foundation, a hairnet or any other personal care items

    Most sento offer the items needed to take a bath either for sale or rent, so if you are out sightseeing and want to take a bath, stop in and see what they have.

    Always take off your shoes before entering a sento. This is typically done right at the entrance. It’s a good idea when entering the sento to be mindful of shoes. Shoe lockers or a shoe rack is typically provided where shoes are to be removed.

    Entrance fee (all sento in Kyoto have the same entrance fee)
    · Adults: 450 yen, 6–12: 150 yen, up to 5: 60 yen
    · Credit cards are not accepted.

    Many sento also offer cold milk, soda, or soft-serve ice cream. After getting out of the bath, it’s a great treat!

    Note: the sento will close at the end of the posted business hours. Please keep the business hours in mind and leave yourself time to dry off and change.

Click here for great tourist attractions
in the Fushimi and Chushojima area

Recommended passes

Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass (1day or 2days)

This pass is valid for unlimited rides on all Keihan lines for either one or two days. It is a handy for sightseeing from Osaka to the heart of Kyoto. In addition to tourist destinations like Heian Jingu Shrine, the pass is convenient for shopping and comes with special discounts and benefits at certain establishments.

Learn more

Eizan Railway

This is a great sento to visit after sightseeing at Kurama, Kibune and Mount Hiei.

  • 8Daikokuyu

    Shugakuin
    [E05]

    There are a number of sento named Daikokuyu in Kyoto, but this one is located at Shugakuin Station along the Eizan line. It is a spacious sento with new facilities.

    Address: 16-3 Yamabana Yanagatsubo-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
    About a two-minute walk from Shugakuin Station

    Business hours: 15:00 to 23:30

    Closed: Wednesdays

    Nearby tourist attraction:
    Manshu-in Temple (17 min. on foot)

  • Recommended passes

    Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass
    (Greater KURAMA & KIBUNE area)

    This one-day pass is valid for unlimited rides on all Keihan and Eizan lines. Because Eizan is included, this pass provides vast coverage from Osaka to the center of Kyoto and northern Kyoto as well. There are also special benefits you can use at Kurama-dera Temple and Kurama Onsen.

    Learn more

Learn more about areas along the Eizan Railway line

Special recommendation

YUU is a large bathhouse located on the B3 level of Kyoto Tower, about a two-minute walk from Kyoto Station.
Opening at seven in the morning, YUU is an especially great option for a bath after a ride on one of Japan’s highway buses. It’s also a nice choice before or after an exploration around the food court (open until late) on the B1 level, or a shopping trip on the first level where you can find gifts only available in Kyoto.
Click here for details

Address: 721-1 Higashi Shiokoji-cho Karasuma-dori Shichi-jo Sagaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
About a two-minute walk from the Karasuma Chuo (Central) Exit of JR Kyoto Station

Business hours: 7:00 to 22:00 (last entry: 21:30)

Closed: Open every day

Entrance fee for adults: weekdays – 770 yen, weekends – 910 yen

Children (from two years old through elementary school): 450 yen

Note: One face towel provided for on-site use free of charge

Learn more about Kyoto Tower

Note: The information provided here is correct as of October 2019