|Japan's islands are the site of numerous volcanoes.
The pressure and heat lying just below the earth's surface result in spectacular
and dangerous eruptions from time to time, but they also have a much more pleasant
effect, bringing naturally heated water to the surface in numerous locations.
These hot springs, or onsen in Japanese, are among
the top tourism destinations in the nation.
Thanks to the country's wealth of natural baths, the Japanese love to soak
in onsen whenever they get the chance. This is more
than just a simple cleansing experience, though: The long soaks in spacious tubs
are a form of relaxation that hard-working businesspeople can't get in their cramped
tubs at home. And nowadays these people don't need to head for the hills for an
onsen experience. There are plenty of hot bath options
right in Tokyo.
Tokyo, like all cities in Japan, has long been home to sento,
or cheap public baths. Recently, however, these are up against competition from
fancier establishments. "Leisure facilities" that offer much more than
just tubs and wash areas are gaining fans as they appear in and around Tokyo.
Let's take a look at the history of public baths in Japan's capital and see where
the industry is heading today.
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