This is a slightly larger version of a regular neighborhood sentō. As in any city in Japan land is scarce and going up often provides the solution. This solution was chosen for this bath house too. The baths are stacked, the men’s baths are on a different floor from the women’s. While at it they also built in a few levels for car parking.
The urban atmosphere this provides is definitely a selling point for this sentō. Different floors for the men’s and women’s baths means they aren’t mirrored with identical features as is the case in a regular public bath. The men’s baths has, besides the hot bath, the following features:
- Massage bath
- Jet bath
- Electric bath
- Cold bath
The women get the same features, but get an added rooftop open air bath thrown in.
Nishiki-yu is located around the corner from the famous Nishiki Market, by some referred to as the “Kitchen of Kyoto”. It is one of the older bath houses in Kyoto and remains very much in its original state. The old building stands out between the newer ones that surround it, but doesn’t mismatch its surroundings. The dressing room is lined with the original ornate wooden lockers that were installed when this bath was built. The ceiling is decorated in traditional Kyoto style.
What makes this bath unique however is its owner. He has successfully established Nishiki-yu as a mini cultural centre, with regular live music performances, second hand book- and yukata sales and guided tours of the entire facility, including the behind-the-scenes part of the bath house.