Photo by Matheus Ferrero
As times change and tattoos become more of a fashion statement, tattoo-friendly onsen are becoming more common in Tokyo. Here is a list of my favorite tattoo-friendly hot springs in the Tokyo area. Every hot spring on this list allows tattoos of all sizes, so grab your towel and let’s go!
1. Kosugiyu, Koenji, Suginami Ward, Tokyo
Just a short train ride from Shinjuku, Koenji is an area with a budding creative scene frequented by musicians and artists. With its narrow cafe-lined streets, vintage shops, and chilled vibe, Koenji feels noticeably cozier than other areas of Tokyo. Koenji is also home to Kosugiyu, a tattoo-friendly sentō with deep ties to the creative community.
Kosugiyu sentō in the alternative hub of Koenji. (Credit)
Kosugiyu has five baths, a cold bath, a 44-degree bath (omg, so hot), a 42-degree bath, an electric bath, and a unique milk bath. The milk bath with its soft white water will leave your skin feeling silky smooth. So why not pick up a box of Kosugiyu’s original milk bath recipe (for sale at the front desk) and enjoy the sentō feeling at home too.
Kosugiyu often features special baths like shikuwasa and yuzu, so make sure to check the list just outside the entrance. As for amenities, they have everything you need. You can buy single packets of deluxe soaps and treatments at the front desk, but the free soaps are pretty high quality here. My advice is to spend that ¥80 on renting a big fluffy Ikeuchi organic cotton towel instead.
2. Sakaeyu “Donburi” Minowa, Taito Ward
Tattoo-friendly or not, this onsen is hard to beat. Tucked away in the quiet residential area of Minowa (just north of Asakusa), this is a popular spot for locals. The staff is welcoming and friendly, and the touch screen ticket machine provides English, French, and Japanese instructions. The rotemburo (open-air bath) features two rice bowl-shaped mini tubs, hence the nickname “Donburi.”
Sakaeyu “Donburi” is among my favorite tattoo-friendly hot springs in Tokyo. (Credit)
Sakaeyu has a good variety of baths as well as a sauna. Indoor baths include Micro Vibra, denki (electric), a jet bath, and a yakuyu (therapeutic medicinal bath). Usually, the yakuyu contains hojuyu, a ginseng-based bath tincture. However, every Sunday, there is a feature ingredient. When I visited, it was beautifully fragrant chamomile. Outside is the rotemburo (open-air bath) that sources water from a natural spring infused with nanobubble technology. Next to that, you will find the water bath (a cold bath for after the sauna).
The adorable “Donburi” shaped mini tubs in the rotemburo. (Credit)
You can rent both bath and face towels here at ¥170 for the set. Of course, sauna lovers will need to cough up an extra ¥500, but it is a small price to pay to get all those toxins out!
3. Hisamatsuyu Natural Hot Spring, Sakuradai, Nerima Ward, Tokyo
This natural hot spring is in Sakuradai in the Nerima area of northwest Tokyo. With its sleek, minimal exterior, you wouldn`t think that this is an onsen at all. However, Hisamatsuyu had a renewal a few years ago, so this modern theme continues throughout the onsen. Every night from 7 pm, there is a projection mapping art installation by Atelier Omoya in the bathing area.
A modern entrance. (Credit)
At Hisamatsuyu, you will find several jet baths, one for the sides, one for the front, and one for the back. There are also two electric baths and a 39-degree bath. The sauna is around 89 degrees, so it’s not too intense. Outside, there is a sodium monochloride spring that allegedly has various health benefits.
If you visit Hisamatsuyu, be sure to bring your shampoo, treatment, and soaps. Unfortunately, there is no free soap available here, so you will need to buy some at the front desk if you forget to bring yours.
4. Yu-Pauza Hibari, Hibarigaoka, Nishitokyo, Tokyo
Yu-Pauza Hibari is a great local place with a lot of regulars. But, not going to lie, I was a bit nervous at first because I went in the afternoon and the bathhouse was full of obaachan. Worried about making them uncomfortable, I tried to keep to myself. But, when I entered the sauna, I was greeted with a friendly ‘Konnichiwa! Doko demo ii!”. I instantly felt comfortable and ended up having a few conversations with them about my life in Japan.
Yu-Pauza Hibari; friendly, and tattoo-friendly. (Credit)
The yakuyu has a unique medicinal bath pretty much every day of the week. Last month, pistachio, English rose, and apple were in the rotation. Other baths include a rotemburo, jacuzzi, massage and reclining baths, an electric bath, and a cold water bath. In addition, there are infrared and wet rock saunas that are swapped between the men’s and women’s sides each month.
The rotemburo is spring-fed and at just the right temperature. (Credit)
5. Musashi Koyama Onsen, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo
Nestled in a quieter part of Shinagawa-ku is the famous Musashi Koyama Onsen. It is about a 5-minute walk from Musashi Koyama station. This onsen is lovely and has a modern yet classic feeling. Moreover, this place is unique, as it sources water from two different springs.
Musashi Koyama’s entrance. (Credit)
The main feature of this onsen is its two-tiered rotemburo. The first level has a bath that draws water from Kuroyu hot springs, a bicarbonate spring especially effective for softening skin. The second tier is a natural stone bath that sources water from a golden, hypertonic alkaline spring.
The two-tiered rotemburo at Musahi Koyama Onsen. (Credit)
Inside is an array of tubs filled with Kuroyu spring water, including hyper jet, electric, and jacuzzi. Of course, there is a sauna here as well. But, if you want to treat yourself, you can shell out ¥1,400 for the bedrock bath where you lay on hot stones that release far infrared rays (women’s side only).
So there you have it, my tattooed friends, a list of tattoo-friendly hot springs in Tokyo you can visit without worry. Just make sure to always be on your best behavior, follow bathing etiquette carefully, and enjoy your bath!