A famous, gorgeous Kyoto sento public bath -FUNAOKA ONSEN

FUNAOKA ONSEN is well known among Kyoto sento (public baths) for its amazing architectural design. From the arrangement of great stones at the gate, you can see that the roof over the entrance traces a beautiful curve. This noki-karahafu cusped gable with undulations is a form of decorative roof unique to Japan, and can also be seen at ancient temples. As an example of karahafu architecture, FUNAOKA ONSEN is a registered tangible cultural property.

FUNAOKA ONSEN was established in 1923. It was originally a part of the FUNAOKA-RO complex that included a restaurant and Japanese-style inn. FUNAOKA ONSEN is located in the Nishijin District of Kyoto, which is well known for its weaving industry and was quite a prosperous area in the 1920s. FUNAOKA-RO was an entertainment facility where guests could enjoy elaborate cuisine followed by a relaxing soak in the baths. As most of the guests were elite young men, no expense or luxury was spared in the gardens or buildings. It is worth noting that FUNAOKA ONSEN is home to Japan’s first denkiburo (electric bath). In a denkiburo, a weak electric current runs through the bath water and through the body, purportedly to improve blood flow. Now denkiburo are present in most sento, but they were a revolutionary development when they were first introduced.

FUNAOKA ONSEN began operating as a sento in 1947. Although it ceased to function as a restaurant and inn during World War II, the outside appearance remained the same. There are many different kinds of baths. In addition to the main bath and denkiburo, there is a medicinal bath, an extra-hot, extra-deep bath, and a foam bath as well as cypress and stone baths located outdoors. The outdoor baths are open to either men only or women only on alternating days. The onsen opens at 8am on Sundays. They invite you to enjoy a refreshing morning bath in a different setting than the whimsical nighttime atmosphere.

There is so much to see at FUNAOKA ONSEN.


Let’s take a look inside. The first thing you’ll notice upon entering the changing room is the wooden tengu carved into the ceiling. Tengu are goblins storied in Japan since ancient times. Together with the tengu is famed 12th-century warlord Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune. Many legends surround Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune – including one that says he later became Genghis Khan – and the carving shows a young Yoshitsune learning the art of fencing from the tengu. The ramma transoms around the room feature beautiful openwork carvings of various festivals held in Kyoto.
Cross a stone bridge to move into the bathing area. The bridge was actually used on the streets of Kyoto. It was relocated in 1932 after the opening of the streetcar (no longer in service) made the bridge unnecessary.


The stones used in the outdoor stone bath come from Kurama and Kibune in the northern part of Kyoto. The area is well known as a “power spot,” so you may be able to feel the power of the stones. The other outdoor bath is made entirely of hinoki cypress wood. As you slip into the tub, you can gaze at the magnificent Japanese garden complete with koi fish.

The majolica tile in the changing room and elsewhere is another eye-catching feature of the onsen. The tiles originated on the island of Majorca in Spain, and caught hold in Japan in the early 1900s. The tiles are known for their textured surfaces and brilliant colors. FUNAOKA ONSEN also provides a variety of beverages. The glass bottles conjure up an old-fashioned feel that fits well with the atmosphere.


    TEL: 075-441-3735
    ADDRESS: 82-1 Murasakino Minamifunaoka-cho, Kita-ku, Kyoto
    OPEN: 3pm-1am (8am-3pm on Sun.)
    CLOSED: Open every day
    COST: ¥430

    wi-fi: No

    5-minute walk from Senbon-Kuramaguchi bus stop (board a city bus from Kyoto Station).
    20-minute walk from Kuramaguchi Station on the subway.

The information is current as of November 2015.