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Looking for Sento – 17 (2014.12.26) Daikokuyu

The fact is, this was a natural hot spring for 60 years.

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Daikokuyu, from which the Tokyo Sky Tree an be seen close by

Oyokogawa river and Yokojukkengawa river are canals which came into being for developing the shitamachi in the Edo era (1603-1868). The area lying between these rivers has been known as Honjo-ku Yokokawabashi since before the Second World War. If you go along Yotsumedori street from Kinshicho Station, in the direction of Oshiage and head for the Tokyo Sky Tree, you will hit Yokokawa police box intersection where it meets Kasugadori street. From there take the next road to the west and go north and you will find Daikokuyu.

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Hokoyu

Daikokuyu has a reputation for the cheerful conversation with the customers by its 94 year-old kanbanmusume (1), Haru Shinbo, from the bandai (2). Haru, the o-okami(3), who is from Nagaoka, Niigata prefecture, established Daikokuyu in 1950 with her husband who is from Joetsu city. Eiko, the female owner (okami), who married Haru’s son, is from a liquor store nearby. The wakaokami (4) Yumi, who is from Sunamachi, shoulders responsibility for Daikokuya with her husband Takuya (35 year old) who is the third generation owner.

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Rotenburo for relaxing

Takuya, who decided to take over Daikokuyu three years ago, set about having the sento remodeled whilst retaining its traditional sento construction. In February this year, they put in the biggest rotenburo (5) in Eastern Tokyo with a wooden deck from where the Tokyo Sky Tree can be seen, and introduced a high concentration artificial carbonated spring in the bathroom. When it was checked, just in case, the groundwater proved to be a weak alkaline hot spring, containing meta-silicic acid, and it was named Oshiage onsen hot spring. Recently, all hot spring water used is upgraded to nano-water, which is said to make it more effective in giving a moist and silky-smooth skin and retaining heat. The popular medicinal bath and herb bath, of which there are 100 kinds, are changed daily. As many fresh plants and fruits as possible are used, with Sunday’s fresh lemon bath being a favourite. There are two kinds of sauna baths. In one of them, the 50 degree centigrade steam sauna, customers rub salt into the skin to improve perspiration and make the skin smooth. The hokoyu (6) which is supposed to be used for rehabilitation became popular among children as it looks like a swimming pool. Of course, the jet bath and the bubble bath are fully-equipped. As the men’s and women’s bath rooms are rotated daily, you can enjoy alternately the painted pictures of the Tateyama mountain range and Mt. Fuji. The lobby, which acts as a gallery where art works such as photographs and paintings are exhibited, is a place to relax after having bath.

Daikokuyu is a sento which has adopted modern technology into the traditional Tokyo sento, thereby increasing the effect of the hot water and its enjoyment. The sento has leaped into becoming a popular new hot spring sento among young families with small children, tourists coming to see the Tokyo Sky Tree and also foreigners.

Daikokuyu
Address: 3-12-14,Yokokawa, Sumida-ku, Tokyo
Telephone: 03-3622-6698
Open: 15:30 – 24:00
Closed: Monday
Access: 6 minutes walk from Oshiage station

Text and photographs: Akira Fuse
Translation: Yoshie Hutchinson, Language Volunteer Co-talk (LVC)

Note-
(1)Kanbanmusume – pretty girl working for a shop or small restaurant who serves as a draw for customers.
(2)Bandai – traditional elevated seat at a public bathhouse to collect the entrance fee and       watch over the changing room.
(3)O-okami – in this article’s case, the owner’s mother-in-law who is working and supporting the okami (woman owner).
(4)Wakaokami – in this article’s case, the owner’s daughter-in law who is managing business under the okami (woman owner).
(5)Rotenburo – open-air bath.
(6)Hokoyu – a bath specially made for walking for rehabilitation.