Another thing you might want to try while in Kamakura is a trip to the Japanese bath, especially after a long day at the beach. Shimizu Yu in Zaimokuza is the last remaining sento within walking distance of Kamakura Station.
If you’ve never been to a bathhouse, you might be a bit shy about the idea of communal bathing, but most of the customers are too busy getting clean or chatting with neighbors to pay much attention anyway. At the entrance, you’ll find shoe boxes and then a step up to separate doors for men and women. Once inside, there will be a person called a Bandai sitting in a booth between the two sides to take the entrance fee, and also sell small soaps, shampoos, and towels. After paying, you put your clothes in one of the lockers, and with your hand towel and sundries proceed into the bath area beyond the glass sliding doors.
Here you will find big tubs of hot water (at various temperatures) to soak in, but please be sure to sit at one of the washing stations first and lather and rinse yourself thoroughly before entering the tubs. Important to note is that the faucet at the stations has 2 knobs, one for hot water and one for cold. If you fill your bucket from just one knob and douse yourself, you may be in for a very shocking experience. You can use your hand towel like a fig leaf, but when submerging into the tubs, etiquette requires that the towel itself remain out of the water. You may see some Japanese elders putting the folded towel on their heads.
Some locals will soak for quite some time, but even a few minutes immersed in the hot water will do an amazing job of relaxing the muscles. When you are finished soaking, try to dry off as much as you can before reentering the locker area. Here many customers may have a beer or coffee milk after their baths, before heading home refreshed.
Communal bathing in Japan actually started with the temples offering baths to the sick and elderly several centuries ago. Therefore, what better place than Kamakura to have your first sento experience!
Entrance Fee: ¥470
Open: Tues.,Thurs.,Sat., & Sundays 3:00 – 9:00pm
Closed on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Zaimokuza 1-10-24, Kamakura 0467-22-4697 (in Japanese) Map