My Sento Experience

My one and only Sento experience was in Tokyo. Sento is a community bathhouse in Japan, and it is very common for Japanese folks.

Travellers crave for Onsen, but Sento offers another perspective. As an analogy, Singaporeans enjoy authentic food at Hawker Centre but tourists go to foodcourt and restaurants. To understand the locals better, go to a Sento.

The first question many will ask, what is the difference between Onsen and Sento. The Japanese translations are 温泉 and 銭湯 respectively.

Read on and you might find Sento appealing too.
I could do a Sento everyday, if time permits 🙂

蛇骨湯銭湯

Long time ago, not every home has a shower facility, much less hot water. So Japanese go to bathhouses for a soak and relaxation.

Jakotsuyu 蛇骨湯 is in Asakusa (quite near to Sensoji Temple), there are at least 3 bathhouses within 20 minutes walk from my hostel. The bathhouse which I went was 95% Japanese patrons. I saw some Korean, Taiwanese and even a few Caucasians. I might be the only Singaporean. Non-Japanese might be curious about Sento, just like me.

What are the difference between Onsen and Sento?

Both requires you to go butt naked (no underwear).
You will sit on stools and scrub yourself clean before entering the water.
Both are normally segregated by gender.
Onsen usually use hot spring waters, but sentos normally use hot water.

Those bath scenes in Japan Hour where you have public pools offering panoramic views of Mountains, Sunsets, Sea or Snow are usually Onsens.  Sentos are confined spaces, and we will likely see a huge mural of Mount Fuji 🙂

Onsen is more sensuous (read exclusive), while Sento is like you bathing with 30 others!

No swimming in the pool for both Onsen and Sento 🙂

Sento price

Sento is very popular with Japanese, many will socialise with colleagues or neighbours during their baths, or simply scrub or wash away office fatigues before heading home.

(Photo above)
Did I mention Sento entrance fee is ¥460 (Yen), which is only SGD 5.50!

No footwear

Sento Experience and tips

After selecting your Sento package at the vending machine, keep your shoes and approach the counter. You can rent a towel.

No 1 tip is try to look like a local, and not appear too apprehensive. Japanese will still know you are non-local :p

-Head towards the male section, and you will see guys in various stages of stripping. Just chill and strip, try to ignore the 20 pairs of eyes who might be eyeballing you wahaha!

-Keep your belongings in a locker (free) and keep the key

The first mistake I made was wearing my spectacles into the bath area!
My glasses immediately fog and everyone now know I am virgin Sento user (Silly me)

-(Step 1)Find a corner, sit on the stool and lather yourself with copious amount of shampoo or shower foam. Slowly rinse away the soap with a pail or scoop

-Onsen and Sento culture requires you to sit and wash, standing up would mean splashing water onto others (taboo!)

-Do Google for more Sento and Onsen etiquette

-Why my Sento water is brown in colour? Google told me this is natural mineral water colour, pumped from 1000m below

-Temperature of water can be hot, from 37 degrees to 42 degrees! Dip your toes before immersing whole body, no sulphur smell here.

-There are different pools to enjoy:

I loved the jacuzzi jets, soothing my sore muscle. I did not enjoy the tingling feel from the “electric” pool. YES, they ran a small current through the water eeeks! The electric pulses are supposed to improve our body health circulation, but my body says “No thanks”.

-VR 360 degree tour of interior (photo link)

Image credit Google Map

-Same as Onsen, first timers should step out of hot water after 15 minutes (just a guide). How long we can dip in hot (or cold) water is subjective, listen to your body.

-Photo above, the graphite pools are 17 degrees cooling pools. Alternate between Hot and Cold pools. You will feel your pores open and contract, feels like mini needles prickling but in a nice I-am-so-alive way  (you will be SHIVERING as you step into the cold pool!)

-After getting out of the cold pool, let your body temperature stabilise first. Sit on long stools, face the fake waterfall feature. There are real kois in the pond, close your eyes and soak in the Japan Hour moment 😁
(try to forget you are still naked, no one is seeing )

-Repeat this Hot Cold cycles as many times  as you like 🙂
I was in Jakotsuyu 蛇骨湯 for at least 1 hour, three cycles.

-Once you are done, repeat Step 1 and dry yourself.

-Buy a drink, Meiji milk recommended, and rest for a while. We need to replenish the loss fluids

-Blood circulation is still working hard. Do not return towel yet, as you will still perspire for a good 10 minutes

Mount Fuji in Sento wall

Before you book your Onsen and Sento session

Skin felt detox and so smooth.  But I also felt lethargic as the Sento experience really relaxed my body and soul. I just wanted to enjoy a hot bowl of Ramen (Ippudo is just 2 mins away) and go to sleep straight away.

-Not sure where is the nearest Sento or Onsen, just Google. You will have better luck using “銭湯 or 温泉” instead of “Public bath”.

-Do Google and find whether the Sento or Onsen establishment welcomes tattoo (Some in Japanese society still associate tattoos with Yakuza)

-Just in case, ensure your shortlisted Sento is not Gay 🙂
(There are some outlets which cater for LGBT needs )

-My Sento at Jakotsuyu 蛇骨湯 (GPS 35.712036, 139.792607) is crowded, but I can do this Japan bath everyday!

-You should have some Onsen experience before heading to a Sento. It can be an overwhelming and unnerving experience with so many male (or female) genitals walking around (keep your head and eyes up). For the same reason, I would not recommend sento experience for families.

-Sento is normally split into male and female sections, the huge Mount Fuji center might be the demarcation line. It is popular for couples to shower separately, and meet afterwards.


Be it Onsen or Sento experience, I find both appealing and relaxing. However, Sento might not be suitable for everyone.

I found the Sento experience liberating.
I had wanted to try Sento because I was curious and you know, YOLO factor.

First-timers maybe go in a group to bolster your courage.
Learn how Japanese enjoy public bathhouses culture.
Chit chat with locals and enjoy the majestic Mount Fuji mural.

More photos of Jakotsuyu 蛇骨湯 from Google Map here.
Hope you will enjoy your Japanese Bathhouse Sento experience too 🙂

Sento Experience
My first Sento Experience

This is one of the queer and weird experiences during my last trip to Tokyo. You may read about my Mario Kart (MariCar) experience too.

Read my Tokyo itinerary and see more photos on Instagram #SengkangBabiesJapan

We have some tips on how using Google Map to search for nearby attractions or cafes (link)

Snippets of my Japan Itinerary

I will be sharing snippets of my Japan Itinerary in this post.

Japan has always fascinated travellers. Mount Fuji, Onsen, culture (yes, anime and cosplay too) and of course the food.

You do not need to understand Japanese language, or enjoy Sashimi to love Japan. If in doubt, just ask and someone will definitely help.

Directions and tips are always helpful on the train subways 🙂

We had bought Klook’s HRA train tickets during our previous Taiwan trip (read 10D9N Taiwan itinerary here). The fuss free experience gave me the confidence to engage Klook again for my Japan trip.

(*Taiwan Klook tickets are not sponsored, only Japan’s sponsored)
Let me share the advantages and tips of booking with Klook.

a ) Convenience

In case you are not aware, most theme parks and attractions in Japan do not sell tickets onsite, you can only buy the tickets online or from Lawson stores (it is like a 7-11 outlets franchise).

Once you locate a Lawson store, buy the tickets at a Loppi machine. You can press for English instruction, then fumble with the menu (day, pax etc).

Imagine, I would need to bring stacks of Yen to buy my Disneyland tickets at Lawson (or use credit card and pay for oversea transaction charges)

Too much hassles and uncertainty, I would definitely prefer to secure my tickets before I leave for Japan.

b) Ease of mind

Download Klook’s app and monitor your Japan itinerary. Read the instructions on where to pickup the tickets.

If in doubt, ping the Online folks at their website. They are quite responsive and were able to provide more tips for me.

Once you reach Japan, most tickets can be consolidated and pick up at Haneda or Narita counter. Do take note they are only open around 0830 (why not 7×24 ?)

c) value for money

I did some comparisons and Klook sometimes offer cheaper tickets through promotions.

When I was researching for my options at Klook website, I came across more suggestions and recommendations. These tips were helpful for my itinerary planning.

Mount Fuji
Just enjoy Fuji san in Japan, do not worry about tickets

Some of the services (total 5) which I utilised for Japan (Hakone, Tokyo and Kamakura) are listed below. Take note these Klook services are sponsored.

*Just click on the links for more details and booking.

#01-Wifi Router

I chose a  9 days Wifi package for about  $36. Network was always strong and the router can support up to 5 devices. Wifi router can last me 5 hours before recharge.

*Once you collected your Wifi router, just turn it on and hotspot away. No further configuration (APN etc ) needed).

Do not rely on the “Free Wifi” at F&B outlets or malls, you need a reliable Wifi to help with Google search and navigation.

Tokyo is a packed metropolitan but it is ideally designed for walking. The cool weather, wide pavements allowed me to walk leisurely and explore the city by foot. If I am tired,  the mesh and convenient subway and train network is always punctual and convenient.

Trust me, DO not save on Wifi 🙂

Being Online allows me to contact my family and to share my Japan itinerary on the move. You can browse my Instagram posts at this hashtag  #SengkangBabiesJapan

Japan Itinerary
Japan Itinerary

 

I can always Google for nearby Food, Shopping, Attractions and even Sento!

Yummy Ippudo Ramen

Picture below, Sento at Jakotsuyu 蛇骨湯 (35.712036, 139.792607). I can do this Japan bath everyday! (Review here)

 

Thank you Google for the tips and navigation!

Donki and Bic (Camera) will offer you hours of cramp shopping :p

Weather forecasting for my Hakone detour…

Takeshita street (GPS 35.671579, 139.703142, next to Harajuku station) is my favourite in Tokyo, so many things to spot and eat, and nostalgic souvenirs too.

Spotted Goku and Ultraman! (at Bandai HQ, Asakusa. GPS 35.707284, 139.794763).

Be it famous Sensoji Temple (at Asakusa) or Anime (at Akihabara), Google directed me to more fun.

Video (Youtube link) : Try to scramble across the famous Shibuya junction! (GPS 35.659528, 139.700534)

Treats from Google map, pictures below L Dandelion Chocolate (35.703599, 139.789618) . R Iwata Coffee‘s pancake (Kamakura, GPS 35.319482, 139.551468)

 

#02-Tokyo Subway Ticket-Unlimited Rides

Save some money and headaches, I picked the 72 hours package for 18 SGD. First timers to Tokyo will be intimidated by the Train maps!

 

To and fro, the train tickets might be seemingly affordable (100 to 300 Yen one way), but they add up pretty quickly for a family, especially if you keep making mistakes 🙂

Fortunately, Klook’s 72 hours unlimited rides cover 85% of my city itinerary. Thank you!

Part of the Fun (and challenge) in navigating Tokyo’s maze of train networks is getting LOST! haha.

I only wish the unlimited rides would cover the “circle” JR Yamanote train line.

Tokyo train map

I will try to share additional tips about Tokyo’s train networks in another post. In the meanwhile, always plan 30 minutes extra to your commute time.

Be prepared to get lost in the maze!

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#03 – Doraemon Museum

A little out of place, but definitely worth the SGD 17 ticket.

If you are 小叮噹 Doraemon fan, add Fujiko F Fujio Museum to your Japan Itinerary. (川崎市 藤子・F・不二雄ミュージアム, GPS 35.610148, 139.573652)

 

Once you booked a ticket, Klook will follow up with detail instructions on collection and usage of tickets.

Doraemon is one of my favourite cartoons. I spend two hours at the museum and appreciated the artist (Professor ) passion and imagination(the ingenious gadgets!).

My childhood memories!

Doraemon museum Japan

Professor Fujiko is the creator of the cute Robot Cat anime series.

 

#04-Tokyo after 5-follow the locals

This is Fun and memorable. A local guide will bring you through the alleys of Tokyo. Small eat, drafts and history-lessons 🙂

Japanese like to destress and chill after work, and some do not even bother to go home. They will sleep in pub, karaoke or Onsen areas before heading back to work the next day.

My friendly host, Tatz brought us to Ginza and Tsukishima. Delicious yakitoris, expensive strawberries and fun cooking my own Monja 🙂

If you love craft beers or sake, there are Klook packages just for happy-hour drinking :p

After Tokyo, I headed South to 鎌倉 Kamakura. This is one of the popular
day-trips out of Tokyo.

Enoden train

Famous for the Buddha and numerous Shinto shrines, we heard Samurai culture started from Kamakura.

Pictures below, praying for peace at the famous Buddha statue (Kōtoku-in 鎌倉大仏殿高徳院, GPS 35.316811, 139.536262).

And beautiful Enoshima island! (sea candle and beautiful lightups, GPS 35.299738, 139.478732)

Kamakura attractions

One of the reasons I choose Kamakura is because of the trains! They have the nostalgic Enoden (running along the sea) and inverted “Shônan Monorail”!

Thanks to Google, I discovered more Kamakura attractions, and bought a bundle Enoshima-pass for both trains (Choose discount ticket 700 Yen for unlimited day rides on Shonan and Enoden ).

Check out my fun train experience on Instagram below!

 

Sunset at Kamakura, can you spot Mount Fuji at the right?

#05-Skyliner to Narita airport

Narita is further from Tokyo, compared to Haneda. And Skyliner service shorten my journey to 45 minutes.

Ticket will allow you to travel one-way from Narita to Tokyo (Euno) or vice versa. See the link above for the comfortable interior.

Trains (in Japan) are extremely punctual and runs every 20 minutes. Do not be late!

For trains to Narita, do take note you have to change your Klook voucher to real train tickets at Ueno Keisei Station or Nippori Station.

*Klook website had indicated Ueno station for ticket collection, which is a separate train station 300m away

We would like to thanks Klook for the tips and recommendations, do checkout their Website and Facebook for the latest promotions and Japan Itinerary planning.

Disclaimer : Klook services mentioned above are sponsored.

Do pop by my favourite activities in Japan (Tokyo Mario Kart and Sento)