Ofuro - Japanese bathtub

digital panel of Noriz - ofuro
Digital control panel of ofuro. Noriz company's product.

This is a different thing from onsen, which is a Japanese volcanic bath. Ofuro is a Japanese house bath. Most houses have it and it's included in daily Japanese family life. Usually family enjoys the bath every night and it's been prepared so that family members can enjoy it one after another.

Ofuro is said to be a synonym of a private relaxation space in Japan. The hot water in ofuro, which is by the way, usually a hot, not lukewarm, have a revitalizing effect and which provides it's user a feeling of purification and comfort. Hot water also naturally improves circulation.

Ofuro is not a regular bathtub and should not even compared to one. Although Japanese hotels have mostly almost regular bathtubs for sake of convenience, a Japanese home ofuro is another story.

First thing what catches the eye of a foreigner is a neat digital control panel installed seamlessly to a ceramic wall of the bathroom. This control panel usually doesn't only control the temperature of bath but also does things as indicate the waterflow and controls the amount of water and provides user friendly timer, so that those who want, can set the bath to warm up automatically for the morning.

The bath itself looks something like of a regular bathtub but is usually built solid and it cannot be moved. It's also often almost twice as larger than a normal bathtub and has a kind of seat where user sits down to enjoy the bath. They also often have handles which are helpfull of getting out from the ofuro.

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For foreign visitor in Japan who is being blessed by opportunity of trying out ofuro, there is one ethique above all; never remove the water from the bath. Yes, you got it right, all family members, including visitors are supposed to bath in the same water. Think of it like this, you are considered as a family member. And besides, it saves amazing amount of energy since the water is not changed between the users. Think of it like this, if there are 127 million potential ofuro users and four persons in a family; it does make a difference.

Those who worry about the hygiene, everyone is supposed to shower before having ofuro. Ofuro is not ment to cleaning, it's only for enjoying. So dont take your soaps there, instead clean yourself in shower before that. And those who are still not convinced can have a proper showering after stepping out from the bath. In ofuro usually bath oils are not used.

Ofuro automatically keeps the water temperature pretty constant which is usually pretty hot for the foreigners, about 40C. Also, increasing number of new ofuros include the airbubble -massage function that can be accessed by the large steel buttons somewhere in your reach while youre enjoying ofuro.

Ofuro get's it's hot water from the central water system in house, which is normally heated by a gas. Note that if the heating of the water system is turned off, the water of ofuro won't be warm either. This can be turned on in a similar digital panel usually somewhere in kitchen.

It is obvious that ofuro's roots lie down in volcanic bath, onsen which are found on mountain areas throughout the Japan, for example in Hakone.

See also: onsen, sento, ashiyu, ryokan, yukata, small towels, ryokan


I live in California and would like to buy a japanese tub like the one mentioned. Can you suggest a retailer? I lived in Kobe as a child and am familiar with japanese style bathing. Thank you!
#1 - Anna Hamann - 08/31/2008 - 21:14
japanese tubs by Bartok design
Dear Anna

We are a maker of deep soaking japanese tubs based in Kobe and Tokyo. We produce tubs of any size and shape using hinoki or asnaro wood. All the tubs are manufactured in Japan and shipped all over the world.

Please visit our homepage for more information.
#2 - Iacopo Torrini - 10/04/2008 - 21:47
loveo. I living in Colorado Mountain and really like this stile bathtub, could anyone suggest where can I buy nice Japanese ofuro tub?
#3 - Colorado - 05/01/2009 - 17:51
Try www.japanesebath.com, they do the best I've seen.
#4 - Skip - 04/06/2010 - 15:25
"Those who worry about the hygiene" Why, somebody should not?

Also, taking a shower both before and after bathing is absolutely normal and you are expected to do so.
#5 - anon - 10/11/2010 - 14:09
Ofuro/Japanese Soaking Bath
Check out Japanese Soaking Baths at www.diamondspas.com. There are many styles to choose from and you can customized how deep you wish for the water to rise.
#6 - krista payne - 03/14/2011 - 17:57
Had one in Tokyo
One hotel I stayed in while traveling to Tokyo had a Ofuro Japanese house bath. It was fantastic! I found this site looking for one for a home I intend to build soon.
#7 - Breckenridge - 03/22/2011 - 17:41
Will be missed
I had one in Japan but have moved back to the US because of the meltdowns. I'll be shopping for one here now.
#8 - Breckenridge - 04/25/2011 - 16:18
E-mail (Will not appear online)
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