The Yomiuri ShimbunA Tokyo association of sento public bathhouses has developed a free smartphone app to provide information on about 560 bathhouses in the capital.
Called Tokyo no Sento (Public bathhouses in Tokyo), the app provides information about events at public bathhouses, such as kawariyu unique baths. If a user identifies the app as a favorite on their smartphone, it will send them notifications. The aim is to help young people become familiar with public bathhouses and get more people to use them.
The app was developed by the Tokyo Sento Association based in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, and provides pictures and information such as the address, business hours and features of each public bathhouse. A calendar lists event information such as when there are lavender, lemon and other unique baths, as well as towel giveaways.
The app is displayed mostly in Japanese. It also provides videos that explain basic manners when using a sento, such as “Please wash yourself well before getting into the tub” and “Please wipe yourself off before coming out to the dressing area” in English, Chinese and Korean.
There are fewer public bathhouses in Tokyo due to the spread of bathtubs in homes and the shortage of successors to take over such businesses. The number of public bathhouses belonging to the association saw a postwar peak in 1969 of 2,634, and has since declined to 556, or about one-fifth of the peak, according to the association.
The association therefore spent about three years creating the app, in the hope of drawing in young people who are not familiar with public bathhouses and revitalizing the industry. It plans to provide as much useful information for users as possible, through such measures as urging the bathhouses to hold more events.
“Some public bathhouses have that traditional feel, while others have just been built,” said Masatoshi Saeki, 50, a senior official of the association. “We hope users will find their favorite facilities through the app and head on over.”Speech