Utsukushi-no-yu: An oasis on the Inokashira line

Utsukushi-no-yu: An oasis on the Inokashira line

Get wet just the way you like it in Takaido's 'super sento' public bathhouse
Takaido onsen
From upper left, clockwise: a "natural ion" bath, the de facto large main bath, a pair of outdoor hot springs and one of the facility's many "attraction baths."

Utsukushi-no-yu in Takaido is not exactly the world's most authentic Japanese hot spring experience, but for Tokyo, this "Bathhouse of Beauty" -- the literal translation of the name -- should hit the spot. Located just minutes from Takaido station on the Keio Inokashira line, Utsukushi-no-yu beats other urban bathing spots, at least on price and convenience.

Perched on the top of a supermarket, Utsukushi-no-yu will never feel like "getting away from it all." Rather than an onsen hot spring, the better label is a "super sento" -- those tricked-out suburban bathhouses that often specialize in wacky bathing gimmicks.

In addition to two types of sauna and large-sized outdoor and indoor tubs fed by a geothermal spring, Utsukushi-no-yu also features five types of' "attraction baths." Utilizing a variety of water jets and bathing positions, each supposedly has a different effect, for example one has jets focused on bathers stomachs, supposedly intended to slim waistlines. Our personal favorite is a reclining bath with massage jets aimed at the back and shoulders and a chilled neck-rest to prevent overheating.

Also unusual for a bathhouse, Utsukushi-no-yu features a full-sized indoor swimming pool that can be used year round by members and on weekends by non-members.

Utsukushi-no-yu: Takaido Nishi 2-3-45, Suginami-ku, tel. 03 3334 0008, 9:30am-12:00am (last entry 11:30pm; food corner closes at 10:00pm), weekdays ¥800 adults, ¥600 children, weekends ¥1,200 adults, ¥1,000 children, www.nafsport.com/utsukushi