Interested in learning some bath-related Japanese? This list contains some of the things you might find in and around a sento or onsen.


Ashiyu 足湯
Ashiyu means foot bath. They are commonly found at larger sento in the bathing area, or outside the building of many onsen. Ashiyu are only meant for feet. Trying to sit down in the fairly shallow water will probably result in stares. When found outside the building of an onsen, the ashiyu can usually be used by anyone free of charge. Bathers only need to take off their shoes and socks and sit down with their feet in the water.

Bandai 番台
The platform between the entrance doors to the otokoyu and onnayu where the attendant sits. This way only one attendant is required for both sides of the sento. A bandai is found in small local sento. Larger establishments will generally have a front desk instead.

Datsuijo 脱衣場
The changing area. It is usually equipped with lockers for the bathers to store their clothing in. One side of the daitsuijo is often lined with mirrors and hairdryers. There may also be a vending machine and a few chairs. In many smaller sento, the daitsuijo has a massage chair.

Denkiburo 電気風呂
Electric elements on opposite sides of the denkiburo send an electrical current through the water. When the bather sits between the two elements the current will tighten the muscles where it hits the body. This is meant to stimulate blood flow through the muscles and is thought to have a positive effect on chronic pains. Be careful, because if used in an improper way the denkiburo will do more harm than good.

Kakeyu かけ湯
Warm water meant for bathers to rinse themselves with before entering the baths. The kakeyu is usually found in a small basin close to the bathing area entrance.

Karan カラン
The wall mounted faucets used for washing before entering the bath. It is likely derived from the Dutch word kraan, which means tap.

Mizuburo 水風呂
Cold water bath. The mizuburo is often located close to the sauna and helps bathers to cool down after spending about 10 minutes in the sauna.

Notenburo 野天風呂
Noten means open air and is similar to roten in rotenburo. The term notenburo refers to an outdoor bath.

Ofuro お風呂
The Japanese word for bath. Public bath houses are therefore often referred to as ofuroya-san.

Onnayu 女湯
The female side of the bath house. The entrance to the onnayu is generally marked with a traditional Japanese curtain (noren — 暖簾) that amongst various other decorations contains the Japanese letter 女, meaning female.

Onsen 温泉
Water from a geothermally heated spring that is directed into a bath. Traditionally these baths were outdoors, but these days onsen are often incorporated in public bath houses and ryokans (Japanese style inns). Since the source of the hot water is usually volcanic, the water from an onsen generally contains lots of minerals and is therefore believed to have health benefits.

Otokoyu 男湯
The male side of the bath house. The entrance to the otokoyu is marked with the Japanese letter 男, meaning male.

Rotenburo 露天風呂
Roten means open air and buro means bath (see Ofuro). As such rotenburo means outdoor bath.

Sento 銭湯
The Japanese term for a public bath house. The water in a sento is, unlike an onsen, not geothermally heated. Instead tap water is heated for use in the baths. Some sento however do use hot spring water to fill one bath. In such cases the word onsen will often appear in the name of the sento.

Shiosauna 塩サウナ
Salt sauna. The temperature in the shiosauna is usually around 60°C and in the middle sits a large bucket with salt. The bather rubs the salt onto his/her skin and stays in the shiosauna for 10 to 15 minutes. The salt stimulates the sweat glands and the rubbing is good for the blood flow.

Super Sento スーパー銭湯
A more sizable public bath house. Super Sento have bigger bathing areas with a larger variety of baths than a normal sento. Often they have add-on facilities such as a restaurant, massage services, a barber shop, etc.