83-yr old bathhouse in Osaka closes its doors

A historic and elaborately designed bathhouse in Osaka’s Ikuno Ward has closed its doors for good, ending 80+ years of operations. Gengabashi Onsen is thought to have been built in 1937 by a local landowner.

The interior is filled with high-grade Hinoki wood, Italian marble, European-style windows, while two Statues of Liberty flank an arched window above the entrance. The Showa Modernist-style building was registered as a National Tangible Cultural Property in 1998, making it the first public bathhouse to receive this registration. The current operator’s father purchased the property in 1942, transferring operations to his son in the 1970s.

The owner made the difficult decision to close the bathhouse earlier this year due to overwhelmingly high maintenance costs. It was temporarily closed in January as repairs to the building, boiler and chimney stack were required. Locals, especially those living in older homes with no bathtubs, begged the owner to re-open, but the estimated 30 million Yen (approx. 280,000 USD) repair bill made this impossible.


Hayashiji, Ikuno Ward, Osaka City

Source: The Mainichi Shimbun, June 29, 2020.

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