I Love ゆ is a website aimed to introduce foreign visitors and residents of Japan to the wonderful world of Japanese bathhouses and onsen hot springs.
Japan is naturally blessed by having a lot of geothermal activity. The iconic Mt. Fuji is a volcano just as many of the other mountains along the Japanese archipelago are. Like in Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, where you find volcanos you will find hot springs. The use of hot springs in the Japanese archipelago goes back to prehistory. Some famous springs, such as Arima Onsen in Kobe, were reserved for the nobility, others, like Tsubo-Yu in Wakayama pref., were places of pilgrimage for Buddhist priests. In modern days going to an onsen resort is one of the most common vacations for Japanese, and often foreign tourists.
The focus of I Love ゆ is on neighborhood bathhouses that can be enjoyed as part of a day trip or after work rather than the large resort hotels. That is why sento and supersento make up most of the reviews. Prior to the post war re-construction many houses did not have any bathing facilities and nearly every neighborhood would have a local bathhouse, called sento in Japanese. These sento, sometimes immaculate in their construction, can also have natural hot spring water in their tubs. The size and grandeur of a sento can very from a single room with one bath to a multi-story bathing area with various, sometimes odd looking. A recent development are supersento. These are large bathing complexes. Sometimes they have natural hot spring water, other times not. Most often they are connected to restaurants and provide a quick, affordable, and relaxing night out for the family. Some sento and supersento have baths filled with spring water that is comparable or even better than the most expensive onsen resort.
This site is named “I Love Yu” because in Japanese the word for hot water is yu. It is either written in the hiragana script as ゆ or in kanji as 湯. Besides the hot spring mark (♨) the hiragana character ゆ also synonymous with bathing, hot springs, and onsen. The name is also a tribute to my amazing wife, Yuko who also loves onsen. This site is also dedicated to Yuko. Our love of onsen brought us together, but her kindness and understanding of my sento--and train--obsessions lets me make all the trips that have made this site possible.
This site is solely work myself, a person who loves taking a bath way too much, and all opinions herein are mine only.
A note to the ladies who use this site. I am sorry that I cannot comment first-hand on the quality of the women’s baths, but I think you would rather I not go check it out. Differences, if noticed, will be documented as best as possible.
This site is best viewed with Japanese fonts installed. If you cannot see the following characters - お風呂 - you do not have Japanese fonts installed. Instructions on installing Asian fonts can be found for various operating systems at Wikipedia.
If you have any questions, comments, corrections, or if you would like to contribute to the site please feel free to email me: david-at-iloveyu.jp. I look forward to hearing you.