Who has a Japanese soaking tub?
June 4, 2011 1:53 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone own a Japanese soaking tub, and, if so how do you like it? I'm renovating and in a quandary about whether to put a small free-standing tub in my little semi-circular bath, or whether to install a deep but small Japanese soaking tub. I'm interested in anyone's feedback who owns and uses a Japanese soaking tub, what you hate and/or love about it.
posted by zagyzebra to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I lived in Japan for two years, and I miss having the deep small tub for soaking in.

Will you have a separate shower area? I think that tends to be more important with the deep tub. It will be harder to get in an out of for very small people and for people with limited mobility. I would also guess that bathing children would be more of a hassle with a deeper tub.

If I ever remodel a bathroom for myself, I'd definitely want to redo it in the Japanese style, though.
posted by that girl at 2:22 AM on June 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

My sister has one! It's awesome. Hers is concrete, poured and formed directly into the available space and tiled. It has a deep ledge, so even for limited mobility it's good as you can sit on the ledge and rotate your bum to get in. Using all of the footprint, hers is also more than big enough for a spacious shower. I really love it.

She has an infant she currently baths in the kitchen sink; bathing the baby in the tub later is going to be a no-go as the ledge is so high and so she'll have to be in the tub with the baby until the baby is in zero danger of drowning at age 23.

Other downside: it's hard to clean, for the same reason it's hard to bath a baby in. You have to get in it to scrub it, and then step out and wipe it down with a dedicated mop (which works perfectly because of the long handle.)

We have an odd-sized bathroom and after much debate, I opted for a double walk-in shower. I regret not building a soaking tub instead.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:55 AM on June 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm with That Girl. If I ever have the opportunity to renovate or build (renting now so that's out) the Japanese soaking tub is one of my musts. They're just fabulous. And i hate taking baths.

But keep in mind that they're really meant for relaxing in, and not for getting clean. In Japan you'd have a completely tiled room with an area for showering, and then an area for the tub. The tub would get filled up to the brim, and when you get in the displaced water would go down the shower section drain.

Being up to your neck in hot water (in a good way) is totally priceless, though. I'd go for it.
posted by Caravantea at 3:30 AM on June 4, 2011

I don't like not being able to lay down, stretch, let the spine decompress, and relax like a conventional tub allows.

The soaking tubs can save water because with only a few gallons a good rinse can be obtained.

-present house has one; honestly; I hate it. It will have to be chopped up to be removed from the room. I don't hate it hard; but it is the compact car version of the classic hot tub. YMMV.
posted by buzzman at 4:07 AM on June 4, 2011

I live in Tokyo, having lived in Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand and London, all those with western bath tubs. I will say Japanese deep baths are awesome.

Western you either lie down and barely get covered by water, or sit and shiver. Japanese bath, I can sit comfortable and the only part of my above water is my neck and head. I'm a large person at that.

Additionally, here you push the "fill" button and it start to fill it, at the temperature you set, and to the fill level, and it stops and beeps when ready. Then it circulates the bath water with the heater to keep it at the temperature you want. Fantastic.

Because the whole shower bath area is one set water proof unit (shower is next to the bath), you can use the shower head to clean the entire room.

I would never have a bath in a western tub. Here, I have a bath, and the kids do frequently.
posted by lundman at 4:55 AM on June 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

A huge fan of Japanese style bathing (separate cleaning with shower, then bath) and having just returned from Japan, my husband is now a convert. When we get our own house, we are putting in a Japanese style 'wet room' with soaking bath, for sure.
As others have said, you really have to do the whole 'wet room' thing to use it properly though.
posted by Megami at 6:38 AM on June 4, 2011

If you don't have enough room for both the tub and the shower, you could follow our approach. We put a big tub in such that the its top lip is about five-six inches higher than the bathroom floor. The bath is over the front hall, so we lowered that ceiling accordingly... which is fine because when you enter the great room from there its 24 foot ceiling seems even more dramatic. Then we put a teak grid over the tub which is a) braced around the edges and b) fastened to one of the edge walls with a block and pulley system. The whole enclosure is clad in slate, including the surround the tub sits in.

If you want to take a shower, you stand on the teak grid and let the water run through and drain out the bath tub. To take a bath, use the block/pulley/locking cleat system to haul the teak floor up. Another bonus is that the resulting shower space is big enough not to require a door and can easily accommodate two people. We clean it with a dedicated mop that lives nearby.

Other details... the shower features a double headed tower and the water for the bathtub comes from a flush mounted fixture. Both are Kohler and don't interfere with raising/lowering the teak floor. Memail me if you want pics.
posted by carmicha at 7:23 AM on June 4, 2011 [9 favorites]

Count me as another who'll put in a Japanese bath if I ever get the chance. I really like both the tiled-room-with-shower idea and the deep tub. The former gives you a great place to clean (both yourself and other objects: rinsing mop buckets and muddy shoes is a lot easier when you have a room with a drain in the floor!), and the latter is perfect for relaxing, heat therapy, etc. The tubs with a cover and a built-in reheater are also a great way to save water.

I think a lot of people underestimate how hard it can be for older and/or mobility-impaired people to make good use of an Western bathtub, also -- being able to sit on a stool and wash your hair in an open room is a lot easier than having to climb into and out of a slippery tub.
posted by vorfeed at 4:37 PM on June 4, 2011

So alot of people have been requesting pics of the tub/shower combo I described above... Here you go. A few things may not be clear: a) the teak floor does go all the way vertical so it's totally out of the way but the pictures show it in mid-rise; b) it's set up so you can haul the platform up from the opening while standing completely out of the way and, with practice, do it one-handed; c) barring total operator incompetence there's no danger of the teak platform falling because the tackle system and rope are rated for about five times as much weight; d) the tackle system itself is attached to a beam; e) only very short people can't jerk the rope up at the angle necessary to release the locking cleat and for them we have a wooden helper so they aren't in danger; and f) there's also a porch off of the shower room for "air drying" because we live in the middle of nowhere. ;) The tub is supported by a steel cradle, also tied to beams, so it can be full of water plus two people without worrying about the floor.
posted by carmicha at 5:16 PM on June 4, 2011 [5 favorites]

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