Sentos are kind of my thing lately. Over the past few weeks, I’ve passed under the public bathhouse’s new noren banner several times, though I never thought much of it. I’m not a big anime fan, so I didn’t realize that it was a one-of-a-kind work of art, signifying the public bathhouse’s collaboration with the popular anime series Kageki Shojo. Nevertheless the noren did catch my eye; it told a story somehow, the way its shimmering, youthful motif cut against the the 72-year-old bath house’s traditional architecture and tiled roof.
That story, I know now, is one of survival.
You have to give daikoku-yu credit for finding creative ways to endure the times. Since Covid hit, they have also been making and selling original masks of exceptional quality and design. I applaud their survival instinct. More than once over the past two weeks, I considered snapping a photo of the banner in question as we crossed paths. But every time, I put it off. I would be back, I thought. After all, I visit Daikoku-yu on practically a weekly basis, and the banner would still be there the next time.
How very, very naive I was. For just last week, the world (by which I mean Sumida-ku) witnessed what I will hereafter refer to as the Great Daikoku-yu Anime Collaboration Banner Caper of 2021, or GDACBC’21, for short.
— 押上温泉 大黒湯/東京墨田区銭湯♨️ (@daikoku_yu) September 13, 2021
In other words, some weirdo stole the one-of-a-kind anime banner in the middle of the night.
Wow, that guy looks pretty sinister. To be honest though, I don’t actually care.
Sentos are a very important part of my existence these days, but that has less than nothing to do with any anime/manga collaboration. It’s true that, unlike the past, people can bathe at home now. But that doesn’t mean we want to. One of the reasons so many women and mothers in Japan prefer to go to public baths, is because we don’t have to clean them. I cannot stress this point enough.
Speaking of stress, when people realize that I do not happen to drink wine at all, they tend to wonder how I deal with the stress of having two young boys who cannot bring themselves to listen to a goddamn word I say. The answer to their query, is sento. Specifically, the mizuburo. It is like shock therapy. First get in the cold water, then the hot water, then the cold water, then the hot water. Repeat until bored, then go home, lie down and feel awesome. I’m serious, it works. It has something to do with blood circulation, I think.
Also, sento is the only place where I get the opportunity socialize with older Japanese ladies- I’m talking practically Taisho born old- who are actually really funny and interesting once you get to know them (though that process takes a lot of time and patience, because Japan).
I love sentos, and I want you to love them too. So I have a plan to begin a series of Sento Reviews across Shitamachi (and I hope eventually Tokyo). We’ll talk about facilities, cleanliness, amenities, general attitudes towards foreigners and overall awesomeness, starting with Daikoku-yu.
Yes. I will do all of these things. Tomorrow. Because all the stress of covering GDACBC’21 has tired me out for now. And my kids still need to eat.