What kind of a place is a sento? How useful are sento for our health?
●A sento was originally a public bathhouse for people that did not have a bath at home. The number of sentos has declined since Showa 40 (1965) as the number of homes with baths increased. Now we are in the Heisei Era(1989～) and times have changed. Sentos have been reevaluated as a kind of hot spring in town, a kind of spa where people can relax. They are now regarded more as a luxury, an inexpensive leisure spot for all, and have regained popularity.
●In Tokyo the temperature of the water in the sento baths can be different in each bathhouse, but are usually around 42 ℃. The bath is over 50 cm deep. You may be surprised at the hot temperature, as it is hotter than most baths at home. But it is said that soaking deeply in the hot tub is good for proteins in the body. It can facilitate metabolism and improve the immune system.
●The large baths in the sento are quite different from the small baths at home. They help to create a refreshing atmosphere and give true relaxation in a bath. Sentos have for centuries been a place where neighbors meet and different generations come together. People inside are literally naked. Somehow it lends itself to honesty, more direct communication, and respect for each other as humans. Many countries have bath traditions, but there is something very special about the Japanese Sento.