Friday, May 25, 2012

The 9/11s Guest Blog: Super-Sentou Realness

Utsukushi-No-Yu, my favourite local super-sentou.

While VivMo (aka Vivian, your favourite blogger) is on a late Spring Break trip to Cancun, we have been asked to blog in her absence. Filling VivMo's void in Tokyo is a tough job, but she feels we have some knowledge that she is unable to offer you, so we'll try our best.

I, DJ Little Lenny Henry of The 9/11s would like to talk to you about the incredible Tokyo world of the SUPER-SENTOU (スーパー銭湯). This is something that VivMo is unable to do as she refuses to go to super-sentou in case one of her readers sees her naked. She can be rather prudish at times. Super-sentou are, however, an incredibly relaxing and invigorating way to spend an afternoon or evening. You also get really, really clean as part of the bargain.

Anyway, super-sentou are the closest you'll get to a peaceful, relaxing onsen experience without traveling out of Tokyo and/or paying a fortune. For as little as 600yen you can find yourself soaking in a hot, steamy bath and forgetting whatever awful things have been troubling you (which, in The 9/11s case, is usually something to do with the gentrification of Tokyo's streets or the sudden closure of a La Pausa). If you're suffering from any aches, pains or illnesses it will even make you feel a little bit better.

Super-sentou can be found across Tokyo, especially in the suburbs. My favourites in my area are Utsukushi-No-Yu (near Takaido station on the Keio Inokashira Line) and Yukemuri-No-Sato (near Sengawa station on the Keio Line). The undisputed champion of super-sentous, for me, has to be Yukemuri-No-Sato's branch in Miyamaidaera (on the Tokyu Den-En-Toshi) line - the plushest, most relaxing one of all. You could easily spend a whole day here without getting bored. In fact I had to do this last year, after getting stranded in a typhoon. Between the baths, saunas, in-house relaxation area (about 50 reclining chairs with built-in TVs and speakers in the head-rests) it may be the best possible way to spend a rainy day.

Yukemuri-No-Sato Miyamaedaira's awesome reclining chair relaxation area.

Super-sentou usually feature the same facilities wherever you go, the main one being a lot of big, hot baths, both indoor and outdoor, surrounded by ambiently positioned rocks. These might include natural onsen baths, healing mineral baths, jacuzzis (or 'massage baths'), electric current baths (?!) and more weird and wonderful baths alongside the regular ones. You'll almost always get a sauna (complete with TV!) and/or steam room as well as a cold bath to dip in and cool off. There will also be copious amounts of showers for you to wash yourself under - make sure you do this BEFORE going into the baths as dirty bathers are frowned upon.

Most super-sentou also offer pretty decent restaurants and relaxation spaces, as well as extra facilities such as massages, treatments, hot stone baths, and even tanning areas for our guests from New Jersey/Essex/The Shonan Shore. Make sure to stop and have a delicious flavoured milk after your bath for the ultimate super-sentou cool-down experience. Strawberry milk is always our choice but we don't hate on the other flavours either. 

MILK: a post-super-sentou essential!

Yes, milk.

This was a Pubic Service Announcement from The 9/11s. Peace In The Middle East.

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