Authentic Japanese soaking tub
November 8, 2016 7:15 AM   Subscribe

This was one of the 5 best things I experienced in Japan, when I lived there many years ago. I want one with all my heart (and the rest of my body), but have struck out in every avenue I've considered.

Most of the ones I see have an internal seat and foot well (and still aren't deep enough). The one I had in Japan was a simple cube inside, and therefore would be shorter overall and use less water, both of which are preferable.

I've identified two models, the Takagi and Ofulo 1, but after searching much of yesterday and today, can't find anyone in the US currently selling either.

If you can help me find one, I'll be eternally grateful, and might be able to arrange a finder's thank you gift (if not against the rules).

Or, might I be able to import one at a reasonable cost? (Another concern is whether Customs would let it through. I wouldn't even try hooking it up to plumbing, and would instead place it freestanding in an existing tile shower. But they couldn't know that and might refuse it on the basis of American plumbing codes.) Anyway, I have no idea how to pursue this idea further.
posted by dancing leaves to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Otherwise, I might have to resort to this:

posted by dancing leaves at 7:23 AM on November 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Just did a quick search. Diamond Spas seems to have some lovely ofuro models.
posted by bluejayway at 7:24 AM on November 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Have you checked out some of the DIY options using troughs like the one you link to? That's what I'm eyeing for a winter planning project, though my site will be outdoors.
posted by cocoagirl at 7:47 AM on November 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

An acquaintance who feels similarly once linked me this bucket from Inomata.
posted by aperturescientist at 7:48 AM on November 8, 2016

This one doesn't look like it has a step.

Northern Lights has cedar ones that don't appear to have a step.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:53 AM on November 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I totally understand the desire. A soaking tub has been on my heart's wishlist for ages, but do keep in mind that it's not just the plumbing you should consider, but also the strength of your floor. Even smaller soaking tubs tend to hold a lot more water than Western ones, so you have to account for a lot more weight over a relatively small area, which can be tricky.
posted by Diagonalize at 9:49 AM on November 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

A friend in construction/design recommends Bartok Design soaking tubs. She's ordered several for clients and says they're great. Very pricey, but you'll get exactly what you want.
posted by komlord at 9:52 AM on November 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Customs does not at all care about plumbing codes so you are good there. I feel like i have looked for these in the past and reached the conclusion that I can either go for something similar but not the same, or I can pay $5000 and get something like this or this which is half the cost but I'm not sure about its bona fides.
posted by jessamyn at 9:57 AM on November 8, 2016

I have thought a lot about this.


You'll need a little back rest due to the steep walls, and the water will cool off faster, but it's roughly 100x cheaper than the fancy alternatives, particularly since the affordable $800 Takagi Ofuru isn't sold stateside anymore. I'm not even the first to this rodeo, the Pinteristas are already all over it.

Horse Trough.

Horse Trough
posted by leotrotsky at 11:49 AM on November 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

You could definitely pack insulation around that horse trough too, if you build it into something.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:30 PM on November 8, 2016

Here are a few DIY options I earmarked:
- DIY Hot Tub Less than $1000
- How to Build a One Person Hot Tub for $100
- And here's a youtube video how to for a wooden one-person tub model.
posted by cocoagirl at 2:50 PM on November 8, 2016

...that last video led me to Furo Health, which is based in Michigan and has models from $3400 US.
posted by cocoagirl at 2:55 PM on November 8, 2016

You instinct on freestanding it in a shower is close to what you will probably want to do. I doubt that you'll be able to pass an inspection without it being permanently attached, though.

You have to have a drain with a trap in the bottom, of course; but you don't want to have an overflow drain. This is what is called a "roman style" bath. It means that when the tub overflows, it overflows over the rim, and 100% of the water has to flow to a drain (a shower drain is ideal). My inspector made me demonstrate this before he signed off.
posted by the Real Dan at 6:29 PM on November 8, 2016

I've exchanged emails with the company about this tub: and the updated ETA is early Jan. 2017. This one the perfect size: can easily step into it without a platform or step, water comes up to one's chin while soaking (at least, for me), and it minimizes water use.

If you look at the pdf brochure though, it appears the insulation is styrofoam, and open on the bottom. I'd be concerned about mold growth over time in that frequently-damp environment.

A few miscellaneous responses, since I think that's polite...
• If we can make something work, it will be in the basement, on a concrete slab, and probably weight-safe.
• Some of the suggestions are indeed lovely. All that I've seen so far (many more I've researched in the past 3 days) are either not deep enough or so large in W and L that they use significantly more water.
• As much as wood might be nice, the care, maintenance, and downsides would be much for me. Realistically, I'd probably use it only a couple/few times a month, at most.
• To be honest, I probably don't have the internal resources and/or interest in DIY options. The stock tank I posted is tempting in some respects, but maybe not truly, when push comes to shove, more for aesthetics than cost/practicality. (Trade-offs are hard ;-)
posted by dancing leaves at 7:32 AM on November 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

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