First opened in the Edo period (1603-1867), Akebono-yu is one of Tokyo’s oldest public bathhouses. And unlike typical sento, which heat their water in-house, the waters at Akebono-yu are directly sourced from a natural hot spring.
While onsen hot springs provide a level of indulgence akin to a high-class resort, the sento bathhouse’s purpose is much more functional. Since houses did not used to have showers or baths, residents flocked to their neighborhood sento bathhouse to freshen up. For centuries, these facilities served as a gathering place for the local community. Within the warm waters of the public bath, locals could get to know their neighbors and form lasting community ties. In recent years the number of sento baths in the city has decreased dramatically due to modern amenities and lifestyles. Akebono-yu is one of approximately 600 that remain in Tokyo.