Where can I find a Japanese style bath in New York City?
December 21, 2003 10:03 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find a Japanese style bath that's open to the public in New York City?
posted by ursus_comiter to Grab Bag (7 answers total)
build your own?
posted by machaus at 10:37 AM on December 21, 2003

My understanding is that public bathhouses of any stripe used to be thought of as a social good because people who lacked indoor plumbing could still get clean. Then they began to fall out of favor for several reasons: increase in indoor plumbing in personal homes, association with the whole "gay bathhouse" thing [creating irrational public health freakouts] and American's general distaste for not getting naked around each other unless absolutely necessary. Plus, many of Seattle's Japanese style bathhouses closed for good during WWII when their owners were forcibly removed to internment camps. No surprise that they didn't reopen. Many of the buildings still stand but they're not cost effective to run. There are a few female-only public bathhouses, though only one that I know in the Seattle area is a true Japanese-style bath.

Giulinani can be credited with "cleaning up" some of the bathhouses in the NYC area as a way to "save promiscuous gay men from themselves" [though this was of questionable efficacy and intent]. Even though these are different types of bathhouses than the ones you are referring to, legislation tended to look at all bathhouses the same.

Looks like the Pennington Friends house has a communal Japanese tub that comes with a room, but they're not free. This place is fruity & expensive but seems pretty nice albeit not filled with Japanese folks. Osaka seems more along the authentic continuum but again, it's a spa, not a Japanese community hangout. This place is more Turkish, maybe not open, and seems to attract a gay clientele, though everyone is welcome.
posted by jessamyn at 11:26 AM on December 21, 2003


I rent, so home installation is not an option. Maybe one day I'll own...

The spas sound like they'd be nice as a rare treat. I was hoping to find a place where I could get regular and affordable access to a furo style bath. I loved them in Japan and they were great for relaxing tired and tense muscles after marching all over the place.
posted by ursus_comiter at 12:44 PM on December 21, 2003

A thought: Go ask Japanese people in New York. You might see if there's a Japanese tourist office in NYC (I'm almost certain there is) or ask around Japanese stores. Two good Japanese grocery stores are Sunrise Mart on Stuyvesant Street near Third Avenue (second floor), just past St. Mark's Books, and JAS Mart on St. Mark's Place between Third and Second, downstairs.
posted by Vidiot at 2:44 PM on December 21, 2003

Well, I was figuring to ask Japanese friends when I got the chance. Probably less skanky than asking strangers, that.
posted by ursus_comiter at 2:46 PM on December 21, 2003

if you can't find the real thing, The Way of the Japanese Bath
by Mark Edward Harris is a fantastic book

also, I remember a good Russian banya in the East Village -- not as cool as furo, but still
posted by matteo at 4:25 PM on December 21, 2003

Yeah, the russian/turkish bathhouse on east 10th street is pretty cool, although I've heard that on the men only days it may be a little sketchy (I've been there on co-ed and women only days, & have never witnessed anything untoward). They have a russian sauna, a turkish sauna, a steam room, a dry sauna, and an ice cold pool, and you can pay extra for a massage if you want. I think it's like $20 for the day, though it's been a while since I've gone (I used to live nearby it, and also had a friend who was a member - paid a monthly fee for unlimited access and could bring a guest for reduced price).
posted by mdn at 4:56 PM on December 21, 2003

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