10 Best Kyoto Bath Houses For The Ultimate Japanese Soaking Experience

Gin Seah is the voice of AAB Kyoto. His journey in Japan began at age 11 in Miyazaki and led him through many cities including Tokyo, Osaka, and Sapporo. It was in Kyoto, rich with history and culture, that he found his second home.
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Step into a world of relaxation and rejuvenation with our top picks for Kyoto bath houses. Discover traditional Japanese bathing rituals, serene atmospheres, and soothing hot springs that will transport you to another realm. Immerse yourself in the rich culture and tranquility these bath houses offer, leaving behind the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Uncover the secrets of ultimate pampering as we guide you through the must-visit bath houses in Kyoto. From historic establishments to modern retreats, each venue promises a unique experience tailored to your well-being. Scroll down for reviews of our top picks and embark on a journey to unwind like never before.

Key Takeaways

  • Visit different bathhouses like Funaoka Onsen, Kurama Onsen, and Tenzan-no-yu for unique experiences.
  • Immerse yourself in the rich tradition of Japanese bathing at Gokouyu and Kiraku.
  • Enjoy the serene settings of Ohara no Sato Onsen and Saihoji Temple Onsen surrounded by nature.
  • Uncover hidden treasures like Hosen-in Monzeki Onsen and Kyo no Yado Rakucho Onsen for a more secluded retreat.
  • Relax by the river at Arashiyama Benkei Onsen for a picturesque soak.
  • Prioritize self-care and relaxation by incorporating onsen visits into your travel itinerary.

10 Best Kyoto Bath Houses To Visit

Funaoka Onsen, capturing the tranquil atmosphere and traditional Japanese architecture of the oldest public bathhouse in Kyoto

1. Funaoka Onsen

Funaoka Onsen stands as the oldest public bathhouse in Kyoto, boasting a rich history that dates back centuries. This traditional wooden establishment exudes a retro charm, offering visitors a unique and authentic Japanese bathing experience.

The architecture of Funaoka Onsen is a testament to traditional Japanese design, providing guests with an immersive atmosphere steeped in cultural significance. The combination of indoor and outdoor baths allows patrons to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of hot spring water while surrounded by serene natural beauty.

Visitors can soak in the rejuvenating hot spring water within the cozy confines of the indoor baths or bask in the tranquil ambiance of the outdoor facilities. Whether seeking relaxation or hoping to unwind after exploring Kyoto’s sights, Funaoka Onsen caters to individuals looking for a peaceful retreat amidst bustling city life.

With its blend of history, culture, and wellness offerings, Funaoka Onsen remains a must-visit destination for those eager to immerse themselves in Japan’s time-honored bathing traditions.

2. Kurama Onsen

Nestled in a serene mountain village, Kurama Onsen offers a tranquil retreat surrounded by lush nature. The hot spring water at this traditional bathhouse [1] is renowned for its therapeutic benefits, believed to alleviate various ailments and promote relaxation.

One of the highlights of Kurama Onsen is its open-air bath that provides guests with breathtaking panoramic views of the picturesque landscape. Imagine soaking in warm mineral-rich waters while immersing yourself in the beauty of the mountains and forests that envelop you.

This onsen experience goes beyond just relaxation; it’s an opportunity to connect with nature and rejuvenate both body and mind. The healing properties of the water combined with the peaceful ambiance make Kurama Onsen a must-visit destination for those seeking a truly immersive Japanese bathing experience.

Whether you are looking to unwind after a long day of sightseeing or simply indulge in some self-care, Kurama Onsen promises an unforgettable journey into Japan’s rich cultural tradition of communal bathing amidst stunning natural surroundings.

3. Tenzan-no-yu

Tenzan-no-yu is a modern bathhouse in Kyoto that caters to relaxation seekers with its diverse range of baths, including jet baths and electric baths. The facility also boasts sauna amenities for those looking to unwind after a long day.

Visitors can revel in the serene atmosphere at Tenzan-no-yu, renowned for its stunning garden and peaceful ambiance. This tranquil setting provides an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, allowing guests to immerse themselves in a moment of tranquility.

Whether you are drawn to the therapeutic waters or wish to bask in the beauty of nature while enjoying panoramic views, Tenzan-no-yu offers a unique blend of rejuvenation and peace. It’s not just about bathing; it’s an experience designed to soothe both body and mind.

With facilities catering to various preferences, from communal areas for socializing to private spaces for solitude, Tenzan-no-yu ensures that every visitor finds their perfect oasis within this urban retreat. Immerse yourself in the world of relaxation at this gem located just minutes away from Kyoto’s bustling streets.

4. Gokouyu

Gokouyu is a small and cozy bathhouse highly favored by the locals in Kyoto. It stands out for its use of natural hot spring water drawn from underground wells, offering visitors an authentic bathing experience that soothes both body and mind.

  • The intimate setting of Gokouyu provides a stark contrast to larger commercial spas, allowing guests to unwind in a tranquil environment.
  • The natural hot spring water used at Gokouyu is known for its mineral-rich properties that are believed to have therapeutic benefits for the skin and overall well-being.
  • Many patrons appreciate the seasonal variations in the water’s temperature and composition, adding an element of surprise and novelty to each visit.

With its focus on simplicity and quality, Gokouyu embodies the essence of traditional Japanese bathing culture while providing a serene escape from the bustling city life. Whether you seek relaxation or cultural immersion, this hidden gem offers a unique glimpse into Japan’s rich heritage through its rejuvenating baths.

Kiraku, a family-friendly bathhouse in Kyoto, capturing its warm and welcoming atmosphere

5. Kiraku

Kiraku is a family-friendly bathhouse in Kyoto that caters to both men and women with separate bathing areas. Here are some key features of this establishment:

  • Variety of Baths: Kiraku offers an array of baths, including herbal baths and carbonated baths, providing visitors with diverse options for relaxation and rejuvenation.
  • Additional Services: Apart from the baths, Kiraku also provides extra services like massage therapy and beauty treatments. This adds a luxurious touch to the overall experience at the bathhouse.

6. Ohara no Sato Onsen

Nestled in the serene countryside of Ohara, Ohara no Sato Onsen is a hidden gem known for its tranquil setting and authentic Japanese design. The establishment boasts both indoor and outdoor baths that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, creating a truly immersive experience for visitors.

The indoor baths at Ohara no Sato Onsen provide a cozy retreat during cooler months, while the outdoor baths allow guests to soak in nature’s beauty under open skies or amidst seasonal foliage. This blend of traditional architecture with natural vistas enhances the overall relaxation and rejuvenation offered by the onsen.

Visitors often praise the peaceful ambiance that permeates every corner of Ohara no Sato Onsen, making it an ideal escape from bustling city life. The fusion of soothing hot springs and picturesque landscapes creates a harmonious environment where one can unwind and connect with nature.

Whether you seek solace in quiet contemplation or simply desire to unwind in a serene setting, Ohara no Sato Onsen promises an authentic Japanese bathing experience like no other. Immerse yourself in this oasis of calmness, surrounded by lush greenery and majestic mountains.

7. Saihoji Temple Onsen

The Saihoji Temple Onsen offers a unique bathing experience nestled within the serene grounds of the historic Saihoji Temple. Surrounded by lush greenery, this onsen provides a tranquil retreat from the bustling city life.

To enjoy this exceptional bathhouse, visitors must make advance reservations due to its limited availability. This exclusivity adds to the allure of the experience, ensuring a more intimate and peaceful soak in these rejuvenating waters.

For those seeking a blend of cultural immersion and relaxation, Saihoji Temple Onsen stands out as an ideal destination. The fusion of traditional architecture with natural beauty creates an ambiance that is both soothing and spiritually enriching.

Visitors can explore not only the indoor baths but also other facilities like saunas that complement the overall wellness experience at this hot spring area. To learn more about booking details or specific offerings, refer to Saihoji Temple Onsen’s official website for comprehensive information and guidance on planning your visit.

8. Hosen-in Monzeki Onsen

  • The Hosen-in Monzeki Onsen is an exclusive facility reserved solely for guests staying at the Hosen-in Temple lodging.
  • Guests can indulge in private open-air baths that offer stunning views of a meticulously landscaped garden, enhancing the overall bathing experience.
  • This onsen provides a tranquil and secluded atmosphere, allowing visitors to unwind in privacy away from crowds.

9. Kyo no Yado Rakucho Onsen

Kyo no Yado Rakucho Onsen is a traditional ryokan in Kyoto offering an exceptional bathing experience. The ryokan boasts its private onsen facilities, ensuring guests enjoy exclusive access to serene baths.

  • Guests can indulge in the spacious indoor and outdoor baths that provide a tranquil setting for relaxation.
  • This establishment excels in providing a luxurious and authentic Japanese bathing experience, immersing visitors in the rich cultural tradition of Japanese onsens.

With its emphasis on privacy and authenticity, Kyo no Yado Rakucho Onsen stands out as a premier choice for those seeking an immersive and rejuvenating bathhouse experience.

10. Arashiyama Benkei Onsen

Located in the picturesque Arashiyama district, Arashiyama Benkei Onsen offers a serene retreat for visitors seeking relaxation. The establishment features both indoor and outdoor hot spring baths that provide stunning views of the nearby bamboo grove.

In addition to its hot spring baths, this onsen also boasts an array of amenities designed to enhance guests’ comfort and well-being. Visitors can unwind in the relaxation area, complete with massage chairs and foot baths. This space allows guests to fully immerse themselves in a tranquil atmosphere after enjoying the rejuvenating hot springs.

The combination of natural beauty from the surrounding scenery and the therapeutic properties of the hot spring waters creates a truly immersive experience at Arashiyama Benkei Onsen. Guests have the opportunity to indulge in traditional Japanese bathing culture while surrounded by breathtaking landscapes.

Whether you are looking for a peaceful escape from city life or simply want to pamper yourself with luxurious spa treatments, Arashiyama Benkei Onsen provides an ideal setting for unwinding and recharging amidst nature’s splendor.

one of the best Kyoto bath houses, capturing the blend of traditional Japanese architecture with the tranquil ambiance of a public bath


You’ve journeyed through a myriad of Kyoto’s bathhouses, each offering a unique blend of tradition and relaxation. From the serene Funaoka Onsen to the rustic charm of Ohara no Sato Onsen, these hot springs are more than just places to unwind; they are portals to Japan’s rich cultural tapestry. As you soak in the mineral-rich waters, remember that these experiences are not merely about cleansing the body but also rejuvenating the soul.

So, next time you find yourself in Kyoto, don’t miss the chance to immerse yourself in these hidden gems. Let the steam envelop you, washing away your worries and leaving you refreshed and invigorated. These bathhouses are not just spots for a quick dip; they are sanctuaries where time stands still, offering a glimpse into Japan’s ancient cultural traditions and a moment of pure bliss. Embrace the tranquility, and let Kyoto’s bathhouses weave their magic on you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it necessary to make reservations for the bath houses in Kyoto?

It’s advisable to check each bath house’s policy on reservations. Popular ones like Funaoka Onsen and Kurama Onsen might require advance booking, especially during peak seasons. To secure your spot and avoid disappointment, it’s best to plan ahead.

Are tattoos allowed in Kyoto bath houses?

While attitudes towards tattoos are changing, many traditional bath houses still uphold a no-tattoo policy due to historical associations with the Yakuza. It’s recommended to inquire beforehand or choose from tattoo-friendly establishments like Tenzan-no-yu that offer private baths.

What should I bring when visiting a Kyoto bath house?

Essentials include a towel (for drying off), toiletries (soap, shampoo), and potentially a change of clothes if not provided. Some places may offer rental items for an additional fee. Remember your manners too – respect the communal space by keeping noise levels down.

Can children visit Kyoto bath houses?

Most public bath houses welcome children but be mindful of specific rules regarding age restrictions or designated family hours. Facilities like Gokouyu cater well to families with separate bathing areas for adults and kids, ensuring everyone can enjoy a relaxing soak together.

How do I navigate cultural etiquette at Kyoto bath houses?

Respect local customs by washing thoroughly before entering the communal baths, refraining from bringing towels into the water, and maintaining modesty while inside. Observing these practices shows appreciation for Japanese traditions and ensures a harmonious experience for all guests.

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