Top 5 Onsen (Hot Springs) and Sento (Bathhouses) in Tokyo

Hear the word ‘onsen’, and a steaming pool in a remote, snowy location often comes to mind. However, you can actually find onsen here in Tokyo. Water from a hot spring is transported to the onsen, with different hot springs often said to have unique healing properties.
If you just want to get warm, you can also find sento, or the traditional bathhouses. In earlier years in Japan, many houses didn’t have their own baths, so sento, or bathhouses were popular. They were also seen as a way to connect with your local community. A unique part of Japanese culture, the first sento in Tokyo was built in 1591.
When you’re trying to decide which to go to, just remember that onsen are the ones using natural hot spring water, serving up the supposed healing benefits, whereas bathhouses just use normal hot water.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of rules for visiting an onsen or sento, but as long as you’re respectful and polite and keep the following in mind, you won’t have any problems.
・Take your clothes off in the changing area, and only take a small towel in with you
・Depending on the place, shampoo, conditioner and bodywash will be provided. If they aren’t, you can usually buy them at the front desk. Make sure to wash yourself at the showers before getting into the baths.
・Your small towel isn’t allowed in the water. Many people run it under cold water and place it over their heads to keep it cool.
・Make sure not to make too much noise, swim around or splash other people. Most people go there to relax.
・Onsen waters are said to have healing properties, so they often suggest you don’t shower after getting out but just dry off (as best you can, before heading into the changing room and drying off properly with your larger towel). Of course, if you wish to shower again after getting out, that’s absolutely fine as well.

Regarding tattoos, many places don’t allow them, so make sure to check before you go. With the upcoming Olympics the rules are changing, so you should be able to find a place that allows tattoos if you search. Some places also let you in if you cover them up, so be sure to ask.

Oedo Onsen Monogatari – Odaiba

This is actually more of an onsen theme park, with outside footbaths so you can paddle together if you come with your significant other, souvenir shops, traditional game stalls, street food… It’s a cross between a Japanese festival and a hot spring town. If you want to get some unique photographs of your time here, this is the perfect place as you change into yukata when you arrive before heading inside.
Tattoos: NO

Toshimaen Niwa no Yu – Nerima

Toshimaen is a huge theme park / water park, and Niwa no Yu is the onsen connected to it. It has both onsen baths and normal baths, as well as a co-bathing zone (swimsuits required), a micro-bubble bath, carbonated water bath, and saunas. There is also a wonderful Japanese garden to look at while bathing. About 30 minutes away from Shinjuku, this is more of a day out than an after-work soak.
Tattoos: NO

Shinjuku Thermae Yu – Shinjuku

Receiving its onsen water all the way from Izu, this large spa complex has saunas, hot stones, scrub treatments, massages, and a beauty salon – and is open 22 hours a day! Surprisingly enough, this large spa is located in the heart of Shinjuku, in the Kabukicho district. As this area is renowned for its nightlife, this is the perfect place to relax after the movies and drinking – all the way until 9am the following morning.
Tattoos: NO
…However, on their website it apparently used to say that they make an allowance for non-Japanese people who they understand may have cultural reasons for having tattoos (or just like the design…) and it ispossible to enter as long as they are covered up. The website doesn’t currently say this, so I would contact them to check before going if you want to be sure.

Musashino Onsen Nagomi no Yu – Ogikubo

Another spa conveniently close to Shinjuku (are you seeing a theme here?), this one is open 23 hours a day – so you can stay until 9:30 in the morning again. They have a sauna, a carbonated bath, coloured light therapy, massages and more. Staying overnight in an onsen town is a traditional way to spend a night in Japan – but here you can spend a night actually in the onsen!
English website here (most details are in Japanese, sorry)

Tattoos: NO

Somei Onsen Sakura – Sugamo

Located in Sugamo (often called Harajuku for grandmothers), here you can find onsen which use water from Toshima, Tokyo, as well as a hot stone sauna, relaxation room, hair salon and a beauty salon. There’s a free shuttle bus from the station, so you can be sure not to get lost. However, please be aware that this onsen doesn’t allow tattoos.
English website here
Tattoos: NO

Oyata Onsen Myoujin no Yu – Adachi

If you aren’t anywhere near Shinjuku, never fear! This onsen is located in northeast Tokyo, in Adachi. It is a very family-friendly spa, so expect lots of locals. It also means you don’t have to worry quite so much about being quiet – the sauna even has a TV in it. There are a variety of shallow outdoor baths, so you can lie back and look up at the evening sky. They do also offer massages, to help you relax even further.
Official (Japanese) website
Tattoos: NO

Ryusenji no Yu Hachioji – Hachioji

A popular ‘super-sento’ into Tokyo, Ryusenji no Yu is located in the hipster neighbourhood of Hachioji. As it opens at 6am, you can enjoy an early morning bath while waiting for the shops (as many shops in Japan don’t open until 10am), or come here in the evening when the outdoor baths are beautifully lit. As with the others, they have indoor and outdoor baths, as well as saunas. However, the restaurant here offers something unique: a vegetable buffet with locally grown vegetables. If you’re planning to spend a day in Hachioji, this is a must-see.
Official (Japanese) website
Tattoos: NO (as far as I can tell)

Saya no Yudokoro – Itabashi

With a variety of indoor and outdoor hot-spring baths, steam saunas, dry saunas, massage, a zen-style garden, and more, there’s something here for everyone. Some of the hot spring water is a beautiful olive green, which is said to both moisturise and detoxify, so make sure not to wash it off when you finish!
English website
Tattoos: NO

Yugawara Onsen Manyo no Yu – Machida

Open 24/7, here you can spend an whole day relaxing. It feels rather like a traditional local bath but on a much larger scale, they have a variety of different sized baths, saunas, hydrogen baths, and massage/reflexology. Prices change depending on the time you enter, how long you stay, which extra options you choose and so on, so be sure to check out the fees and schedule page before going.
English website here
Tattoos: NO

Times Spa Resta – Ikebukuro

Located close by to Ikebukuro, it’s easy to access and there’s plenty to do in the area for a day out. This spa is over-18 only, but has a stylish atmosphere with baths, saunas, an open air jacuzzi, and a wide range of beauty treatments. Open 24/7, after your hot bath you can cool down in a cold one, or head down to settle on the recliners and nap for a bit while you recuperate.
Official (Japanese) website
Tattoos: NO