Saturday, October 10, 2009

Today is Sento Day! 10/10

Edit: I went to a sento in Amagasaki after taking a nice bike ride to get there. It wasn't free today, in fact the owner didn't even know it was Sento Day. *Doh*

A promotional poster saying "I love sento".

1010 is the nickname for the national and various bathhouse (sento) organizations across Japan. The national bathhouse association's webpage is and I always wondered why they used 1010 for their address. I guess it was easier to write then (全国浴場組合).

So today when I woke up and checked my RSS feeds I saw this post about Moe Day from What Japan Thinks, a great blog that translates surveys in Japan, and found out that today was also Sento Day (銭湯の日) and I was shocked. How did I not know this before. Me the creator of Kansai Onsen Review and the soon to be opened Sento/Onsen webpage. I who has been to over 150 sento and onsen did not know that October 10th was Sento Day. I have disgraced myself. It would be sepuku time if I did not have the weighty responsibility of hosting this months Japan Blog Matsuri. (I've only got a few submissions in on it by the way.)

A sign in front of a sento that says "I Love ゆ" a pun as yu, or ゆ/湯 in Japanese, means hot water.

Anyhow I still did not know why 10/10 was Sento Day, in comes the always intelligent and lovely Yuko. While she didn't know what Moe was, and I'm kind of glad she doesn't, she did know why 1010 means sento.

1010 is made up of 1000 +10, right?

1000 is sen せん
10 is typically jyu じゅう in normal counters, but it can be to と
If you combine them: sen + to = sento
せん + と = せんと
so that's why 1010, one thousand and ten, is sento. Put a / thru the middle and you get 10/10, or October 10th... Sento Day!

I hope that made some sort of sense.

IMG 9371
A typical sento in Nagata-ku, Kobe

According to this article from the Tokyo Shimbun published yesterday Sento Day was established 18 years ago in Tokyo in order to promote more people to come back to their local bathhouses. On 10/10 many participating bathhouses are free to use. Sadly, the article continues, since the event started in Tokyo the number of sento in the area has almost halved from around 60 to 32 sento.

I've not taken a bath yet so I'm going to hop on my little scooter and find a sento to enjoy--even though its 1PM here in Japan. I hope you all go out and experience a bit of living Japanese history before it disappears.


Anonymous said...

Happy Sento and Moe Day!

David said...

Same to you, dude!

sixmats said...

Did you get in for free?

McAlpine said...

Old sento are being replaced by much better and newer facilities. Here in Kanagawa and Tokyo there has been a sento boom going on over the last few years. I say good-bye to the old sento.

David said...


Sadly no. Bummer. It might just be a Tokyo thing, or at least the Hyogo sentos don't do it.


It's odd seeing that comment coming from someone who seems so into preserving Japanese history and identity. Old sentos rule.

Joshua Zimmerman said...

Wow. That poster is so very wrong.

David said...

Wrong? There absolutely nothing wrong with that poster at all. Perhaps you should leave your American hang-ups at home. Group bathing in Japan is a long established tradition and part of the culture here. It is by no means "wrong."