Ryūgū Onsen is a well-equipped neighbourhood sentō not far from Nijō Castle. Most of the facilities are fairly stock-standard, however the jacuzzi with its minuscule bubbles is worth a mention. The tiny bubbles are said to cleanse the pores. The nearby Nijō Castle grounds are popular with runners, and this public bath is one of the spots where many come afterwards to rinse off their sweat.
Price: the regular entrance fee is ¥650 on week days and ¥850 on weekends and holidays. For a onetime fee of ¥210 you can become a member. Members pay ¥600 on weekdays and ¥700 on weekends and holidays.
In business since: 1999
Hours: 10:00 – 02:00
Closed: open every day
By train: the nearest train station is Katsura on the Kyoto subway Karasuma line. Read more here on getting around Kyoto by train.
By bus: the nearest bus stop is Kokudō-Sannomiya on National Route 9. Kyoto City Bus line 73 coming from Kyoto Station and Kyoto City Bus line 29 coming from the Shijō shopping street stop at this bus stop. Nizaemon No Yu is about 100 meters away from the bus stop. Also read here on how to get around Kyoto by bus.
Funaoka Onsen is one of the most iconic bath houses in Kyoto. For over a hundred years locals and travellers have soaked their weary bodies and sought relaxation here. The locals fondly nicknamed the bath House “King of Sentō”.
The building hasn’t changed much since its opening. It is perhaps one of the few bath houses in Kyoto where time has stood still. It gives a great impression of what bathing in Kyoto meant a hundred years ago.
This has earned Funaoka Onsen a mention in the Lonely Planet guide of Japan. There it’s claimed that this is the best bath house in Kyoto.
Some of the more impressive features of this sentō include the cypress wood bathtub in the garden, the ornate water fountain in the cold water bath and the decorated ceiling of the changing room. Besides that there is a sauna, water jets, an electric bath and a rather large hot bath.
Make sure to check out the carved wooden panels along the edges of the ceiling in the dressing room. Local wood-carvers produced these panels during Japan’s invasion of Manchuria. The (sometimes violent) images offer some insight into the prevailing mindset of that time.
The first electric bath in Japan is reported to have been installed here, at Funaoka Onsen.