Daikokuten(1) and Ebisu(2) on the roof are welcoming you.
Takaramachi gets its name from Hokizuka-mura(3) village from the Meiji era (1868-1912) and the name is retained in the Hokizuka primary school name even now. Takaramachi is the birth place of the famous “Takara” toy company, the former “Takara-Tomy”, which was established in 1955 and is famous for the “Licca chan-ningyo doll”. Although the village was a rural area, people moved here from Tokyo after the Second World War.
The history of this sento dates back to when the proprietor’s great grandfather, who was from Nakashinkawa in Toyama prefecture, established Fujinoyu (the present The First Fujinoyu) in Higashi-horikiri before the Second World War. After the Second World War, the great grandfather and his relatives created other new sento, such as The Second Fujinoyu, in
Oyaguchi, Itabashi-ku, The Third Fujinoyu (the present Fujinoyu), in 4-chome Horikiri, and The Fifth Fujinoyu (which later closed down), in 1-chome Horikiri.
The Fourth Fujinoyu was established by the proprietor’s grandfather in 1952 and the management of the sento was left to a head clerk. “ As my grandfather seemed to be broad-minded, he didn’t avoid the number 4”(4), said Akira Matsubara, the present proprietor, born in 1947, who graduated from a design school with the aim of becoming a cartoonist, but who then decided to take over the sento business when he was in his 30s. His wife, Fujie, who runs the sento, also comes from a sento business family in Toyama.
Although the structure of the sento is small, it is a solid traditional kirizumazukuri (5). There is an onigawara(6) in the centre of the chidorihafu(7) over the entrance and under this there is a gegyo(8) of a dragon with Daikokuten and Ebisu sitting on either side. The changing room seems large and a small garden can be seen clearly through the glass door. The gotenjyo(9), which is made of beautiful grained wood is the highlight of the building. The floor and walls of the bath room are of a unified white colour, giving a nice and fresh feeling. The bath tubs are of both the traditional shallow and deep varieties. The shallow one is divided into a bubble bath and a sitting jet bath; the temperature of the deep one is 43 degrees centigrade, which is slightly hotter than usual. Ground water is used, heated by scrap wood. Usually, the plastic washing basins in a sento have advertisements for “Kerorin”(10), which are provided by a medical supply company. However, The Fourth Fujinoyu has basins with original designs created by the proprietor and specially made for the sento. The current second design shows a silhouette of Mt. Fuji with a cloud in red.
At the entrance pray to Daikokuten and Ebisu for a rich harvest and prosperity in business, then after paying the sento fee to Fujie, the proprietor’s wife, wash your body using the washing basin showing the design of Mt. Fuji, and visit and pray to the picture of Mt. Fuji painted on the wall of the bathtub. This year may be a good year, if you have your first sento in The Fourth Fujinoyu.
The Fourth Fujinoyu
Address: 2-11-8 Takaramachi, Katsushika-ku, Tokyo
Open: 15:30 – 22:30
Access: 7 minutes walk from Ohanajaya Station
Text and photographs: Akira Fuse
Translation: Yoshie Hutchinson, Language Volunteer Co-talk (LVC)
(1)Daikokuten – The god of wealth, one of the seven deities of good fortune.
(2)Ebisu – The god of business and fishing, one of the seven deities of good fortune.
(3)Takaramachi; Hokizuka-mura – The Japanese kanji for “takara” and “ho” (宝 – treasure) is the same, although pronounced differently; and the kanji links both place names together.
(4)No.4 – As “4” is pronounced “shi”, which is also the same pronunciation as “death” in Japanese, people are reluctant to use the number 4.
(5)Kirizumazukuri – The simplest kind of roof, which is basically two sides joined at the top to cover the building.
(6)Onigawara – Ridge-end roof tile with the face of a demon.
(7)Chidorihafu – The sides of the gable are joined at an angle to the roof and the edge of the gable is separated from the edge of the roof.
(8)Gegyo – The triangular carved wooden pieces attached under the gable boards for decoration purpose.
(9)Gotenjyo – a coffered ceiling
(10)Kerorin – a traditional medicine manufactured by Naigai Pharmaceutical Company, used as a remedy for headaches, toothache etc.