photos by Shigeo Ogawa

There are a countless number of projects these days to renovate sento public baths and turn them into cafes, art galleries or both. Indeed, the old relics of society are on the decline and it’s not everyday a new sento opens but that’s exactly what happened in Kumamoto recently with the opening of Kuwamizu Sento.

It was back in 2018 when the owner of the project approached architecture firm Work Visions to create a public bath below their private residence. Indeed, there was a reason behind the unusual request. The owners, along with thousands of others had been displaced from their home in 2016 when the Kumamoto Earthquake rocked the region. And the disaster revealed one of the flaws of the community: there were no baths.

Motivated to not let history repeat itself, and to give back to the community, the owners decided that they would build their new home with a public bath. Kuwamizu Sento opened over the summer with the pubic bath on the ground floor and the private residence above it. The homeowners and their 4 kids use the public bath along with members of the local community.