Looking for Sento – 3 (2013.6.3) Fujinoyu

Near Fujinoyu rather than far Tenjin Sama

タイル画1 明るめ

Depiction of Sounkyo


Bonsai azaleas

For over 40 years the local people have been familiar with the wisteria plants in Fujinoyu bathhouse and this year too the charming blossoms adorned the entrance hall. Customers coming and going from the bathhouse everyday can enjoy the sight, which is no less popular than the well-known local shrine, Kameido Tenjin. Along with the cherry tree tunnel in Sendaibori Shinsui park it has become a notable flower-viewing spot in the Higashi Suna area.

The proprietor, Mr. Hiroshi Ishizaka was born in Namerikawa City, Toyama prefecture in 1935. After graduating from nautical school he found employment with a fisheries company. He sailed to Antarctica on a tuna fishing boat but returned to shore to marry his wife Teruyo, whose family managed Fujinoyu. Teruyo had been evacuated to Namerikawa during the war, where they attended the same elementary school and became close friends. Their son Shinichi also felt a yearning for the distant corners of the globe and studied oceanography at university. He joined a major marine transportation company as a navigation officer and sailed the seven seas until he returned to assist his parents at Fujinoyu. The wisteria was planted to celebrate the son’s entrance into elementary school. Together with his parents he now takes care of yubune.(1) There are two kinds of bath, one of which has a different kind of water used every day. Over the course of a year more than ten kinds of medicated baths, herb baths and hot springs can be enjoyed. There are a variety of facilities including a large L-shaped bath, a bath with an electric current and a bath with powerful water jets that give the body an esthetic massage. People seek to use esthetic treatment to recover from physical tiredness and to improve their health.

Wisteria in full bloom

Wisteria in full bloom

The wall behind the bath on the men’s side is filled with a colourful tile depiction of the Sounkyo in Hokkaido. The way the waterfall seems to flow into the bath is highly amusing. On the women’s side is a tranquil landscape from the Kenrokuen garden in Kanazawa. Soaking in the bath, while enjoying the feeling of traveling is one of the pleasures of the bathhouse. In May, bonsai azaleas bloom on a tiered doll stand in the garden of the men’s changing room. At the height of redevelopment in the Kinshicho area in the 1960s and 70s many customers were from local factories or workers’ living quarters. Nowadays they are mainly local residents.

When will the flowers bloom, what will the quality be like, when will the buds appear; the regular customers’ conversation blooms like the flowers themselves.

Higashi Suna, Koto Ward 3-18-17
Telephone: 3644 7351
Business hours: 3pm – 11pm
Closed: 6th, 16th, 26th of each month. If a Sunday the next day is a holiday.
Access: A 15 minute walk from Metropolitan subway Ojima station. A four minute walk from Higashi Suna 3-chome bus stop.

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

Note –
(1)Yubune – means bathtub but literally “hot water ship”. In this case Hiroshi and Shinichi disembarked from the “ship” and now take care of the “ hot water ship”.