Have a royal time after the bath

In the past sento used to be places where everyone in town would go. Thus they were typically large structures, not to mention lavishly decorated.
Teikokuyu, established in Higashi Nippori in 1916, is one such sento. Even now its tiled roof and large entrance curtain give it an imposing air. The main building was reconstructed in 1953, but the garden remains in its original state. The garden is surrounded by the main building, creating breezy ventilation that makes air conditioning unnecessary even in summer. It is also a pleasant place to sit after a bath, admiring the seasonal flowers.
The bathroom ceiling is a lofty ten meters high. In the early afternoon, when sun shines through the glass windows and reflects on the tiles, the whole area has a refreshing open feel. A high ceiling like this draws hot steam higher and higher towards it.
Moisture remaining on the body after the bath disappears on the spot, so even if there are many people bathing and sweating, a state of cleanliness is maintained.
The water temperature is rather high at 46℃ . It can be cooled by adding extra water, but some regulars complain that they’ll catch a cold. It is generally recommended to warm up thoroughly in the water, then gradually cool down afterwards. Go and shogi (Japanese chess) sets are available, and the fridge is well-stocked with milk and other refreshments. This sento is one you go to not only to have a bath, but for relaxing in afterwards as well.

The painting is by the late sento artist Toshimitsu Hayakawa, and hasn’t been touched up since his death. The paintings have a playfulness rarely seen in Hayakawa's work. To please the children he painted an airplane in the men’s bath and a carrotshaped rocket being ridden by a rabbit in the women’s bath. The peak of Mt. Fuji is decorated with a wreath during the New Year period. Water in the deep tub is rather hot, so it is best to get in the comparatively cooler medicinal herb bath first.
A large pendulum clock hangs in the front of the changing room.Everywhere you look there are retro items that are hardly ever seen these day, ssuch as oldfashioned body scales and a head-hugging hair dryer in the women’s bath. The refrigerator is filled with long-time favorites such as milk, milk coffee and fruitflavored milk.
It feels good to sit and look at the garden while sipping a cool drink after a bath. Some customers even fall asleep while sitting in the cool window area in summer. Seeing the colorful red carpet of azaleas in May, and the different face of every season in the garden, is another enjoyable aspect to coming here.
Teikokuyu) Address: Higashi-nippori 3-22-3,Arakawa-ku, Tokyo

Photography / Tomoya Takai Text / JQR

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