If you've been to Japan, you might have noticed buildings with the character 湯 on it. You can see them quite frequently. Since in the past many people did not have a bath tub in their small houses, going to sento (public bathing houses), indicated by 湯 (yu, hot water), was very common. Even though nowadays most people own a bath tub or shower, since it is so ingrained into the culture, there are still some people visiting sento. However, since it is not as common anymore some of the bathing houses had to close down.
This also happened to the sento "Saganoyu" in Arashiyama, Kyoto. It was built in 1923 and closed in 2004, so it had been used for quite a long time. However, differently to other closed down bathing houses, in 2006 the Showa period sento Saganoyu was converted into a stunning café!
About the Café
The essence of this Showa period public bath still remaines with its open air rooms as well as its original decorations. Even though Saganoyu now is a beautiful, modern-style café, many things still remind on the bathing house - shower heads on the walls, mirrors and even the original floor tiles are left, creating a unique atmosphere and experience.
When entering the café, there's a little shop where you can buy nice products like soapes, bath bombs etc. for bathing at home.
If you go further, passing little details like a sink for washing your face still left, you arrive at the seating area.
Going surpringly well with this atmosphere, the café is equiped with large, missmatching wooden tables to sit and enjoy your food and drinks on. I love the contrast between the dark brown tables and the bright, white flagged walls. There is quite a lot of wood used in general which I find unbelievable pretty!
If you go to the right, you can find an open corridor with more tables. The wall here looks more café-like, painted white and partly with visible bricks which looks very stylish.
If you go further to the back, you reach the outside seeting area which looks lovely, just like a terrasse right out of an old European movie! It must be really nice during the mild-temperatured months.
Food & Drinks
The menu consists not only of coffee and tea but also meals and sweets, including pastas and pancakes. They offer seasonally special drinks and foods.
Since it was a hot day, I decided to try a cold matcha health drink including peperming and yuzu. It looked beautiful and after drinking it I felt very energized and healthy. However, I recommend not mixing it as it will get very bitter otherwise.
I personally love unique and stylish cafés like Saganoyo and in that sense it probably is my favourite one in Kyoto so far! I really recommend checking it out when you are in Arashiyama.
If you have been to Saganoyu, feel free to share your experience in the comments!
11:00 - 18:00, last order 17:00
(check the here for updates on the opening times:
TEL & FAX : 075-882-8985
1 min by foot from JR Saga Arashiyama Station
1 min by foot from electric railway Arashi-den Saga Station