State of the sento — Tokyo’s public baths are disappearing, but statistics show a sliver of hope

Originally published on Sora News by Casey Baseel

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It was a rough year for Japan’s non-onsen bathhouses, but a comeback might be on the way.

Onsen (hot springs) have been part of Japanese culture for centuries, but they’ve been seriously surging in popularity over the past 20 years. At the same time that there’s an onsen renaissance going on, though, Japan’s sento, non-hot spring public baths located in urban or suburban neighborhoods, feel like they’re gradually fading away.

Statistics largely back this up. In 2006, Tokyo still had a total of 963 sento, 873 in the 23 wards that make up the most populous part of

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