After obtaining her Master’s Degree in architecture from Waseda University, Honami Enya entered a well-known Japanese architecture firm. But the grueling hours and workload eventually weighed on her physical and mental state, and she fell ill. Enya’s doctor advised her to take some time off, and find a place where she can relax and warm her body. That’s how she discovered Kosugiyu, her local Sento in Koenji.
Sento, or public Japanese bath houses, have been on the decline. But if you look, you can still find one in many neighborhoods. And for those in-the-know, the sento community offers a low-cost means of cleansing both body and soul. Inspired by the healing power of sento, Enya began to create illustrations of her local bathhouse, applying her architectural rendering skills. Kosugiyu noticed her work and offered her a job tending the bathhouse, which she accepted.
Enya continues to work at Kosugiya but has gone on to create illustrations of other bathhouses not only in Tokyo but around Japan as well. On her website she explains that, for each sento, she is granted access for roughly 1.5 hours before it opens. During that them she takes precise measurements and photographs, even conducting an interview with the owner before getting to work on the renderings. Enya’s sento illustrations were recently compiled into a book the she published last month. She also creates some lovely sento merch like pins, towels and tote bags.