Are Japanese Soaking Tubs Comfortable?

There’s nothing quite like a toasty, relaxing soak after a long day to soothe sore muscles and relax the mind. Of course, this only applies to folks that absolutely love bathing (some folks detest it – to each their own!). If you’re one of these folks, the average shower and bathtub combo won’t cut it. 

These tubs are often far too shallow, narrow, and short for a comfortable soak. These bathtubs aren’t the most comfortable experience unless you’re a small-framed individual. So, perhaps you’re building a new home or renovating your current bathroom and decide to upgrade the bathtub. 

In your research, you come across Japanese soaking tubs. They’re deep, beautiful tubs that look perfect for a soothing soak, but are they actually comfortable? Let’s find out!

What Is A Japanese Soaking Tub?

Japanese soaking tubs are small, deep bathtubs. Instead of the standard bathtub, which allows a water depth of roughly 12 inches, Japanese soaking tubs will enable you to immerse your body almost entirely. They are usually at least 27 inches deep, ensuring you won’t have to pick which limbs get to be cold out of the water for a while.  

The tubs are designed to submerge as much of the body as possible, creating the perfect bathing experience. They have a relatively small footprint, usually never exceeding 4 ½ feet in diameter. 

Due to their small size, they’re ideal for small bathrooms. With most soaking bathtubs, you need quite a bit of space to accommodate the tub. However, Japanese soaking tubs only require a small amount of bathroom space for a solid soak. 

History Of Japanese Soaking Tubs

As you probably imagined, the history of Japanese soaking tubs dates back many years. The word ‘Ofuro,’ meaning ‘bath’ in Japanese, is a word of importance in Japanese culture. It’s an essential part of the community’s culture to cleanse the soul and body, with the ‘ofuro’ meaning to relax and warm the body. 

The bath isn’t actually intended for washing, only for soaking and relaxation. The origin of Japanese bathing reels back to the abundant hot springs in Japan. The country has weathered volcanic activity on its mountains for many years, with around 270 volcanoes throughout. 

While an eruption in volcanic activity could wreak havoc on the surrounding areas, the uptick in thermal activity was somewhat of a good thing. It provided dozens of natural hot springs, giving the locals the perfect place for a soak. 

Soaking in the open-air natural spring environment is part of the experience but wasn’t always feasible for the Japanese, as some folks lived too far away. On top of that, investors and warlords had bought those areas, eventually building inns or marking the springs as private places, effectively shutting the locals out. 

So, to adapt to these changes and make bathing more accessible, communities began building bathhouses. This started during the Edo Era, which was between 1603 and 1868. The builders installed pipes to bring in hot spring water, and wells were drilled to allow the hot water to rise to the surface. 

Around this time, the Japanese soaking tubs emerged. Originally known as the ‘Sue Furo,’ these tubs allowed folks to bathe in the comfortable privacy of their own homes. The tubs featured a deep design, allowing individuals to immerse themselves up to their shoulders. 

Skip to roughly 100 years later, in 1964, when the unit bath (aka the Japanese soaking tub) was introduced to Japan during the preparation for the Tokyo Olympics. These tubs surged into popularity in the housing market, even becoming a staple installation in many apartments. They were small enough to fit in an apartment, deep enough for a soak, and easy to clean, hence the popularity. 

Do Japanese Soaking Tubs Have Seats?

Most Japanese soaking tubs feature a seat, as there isn’t enough horizontal room for people to lie down. The seat allows bathers to comfortably lean back against the wall, extending their legs toward the other side of the tub.  

Are Soaking Tubs Comfortable?

Soaking tubs can be comfy and cozy, offering a luxurious spa-like experience in the privacy of your own home. However, while they can be far superior to their standard counterparts, some soaking tubs are uncomfortable. 

For example, a 6-foot-5-inch, 250-pound individual would require a considerably larger soaking tub than a 5-foot-4-inch, 140-pound individual. This same issue applies to regular bathtubs, but it’s essential not to disregard the problem simply because soaking tubs are deeper. A deeper tub doesn’t always mean there’s extra leg room. 

Are Japanese Soaking Tubs Comfortable?

Many folks attest to the elevated level of comfort in a Japanese soaking tub compared to a regular bathtub. In a standard bathtub, where the individual lies down, there usually isn’t enough room to comfortably extend without bending at the knees. 

On top of that, the depth of the tub barely holds enough water to submerge the individual, often not even covering their entire body. Additionally, since folks usually lie down in traditional tubs, there’s extra strain on their shoulders and neck. The tub generally tapers upward, forcing the individual to bend their neck at an awkward angle. 

So, compared to a traditional bathtub, Japanese soaking tubs are much more comfortable. The added depth allows you to submerge most of your body, ensuring all the sore muscles get a good soak. The seat allows you to keep your head and neck in a neutral position, preventing soreness that may occur in a regular bathtub. 

You can purchase a large enough tub to extend your legs out from the seat, or you can choose to sit with your feet directly under your knees. So, Japanese bathtubs are comfortable, providing they’re large enough to accommodate your frame. 

Are Bathtubs And Soaking Tubs The Same?

Bathtubs and soaking tubs aren’t necessarily the same things. A soaking tub is essentially a deeper and more specific type of bathtub. Typical bathtubs are usually narrow and long, featuring a trough-like shape. 

On the other hand, soaking tubs feature a shorter but deeper design. In general, soaking tubs are becoming more popular, as they provide a considerably more comfortable bathing experience and save space in compact bathrooms. 

Of course, there are quite a few baths that are massive all the way around. They feature the deep basin of a soaking tub yet the long, trough-like shape of a traditional bathtub. 

Popular Japanese Soaking Tubs

If you’re sold on Japanese soaking tubs, your next step is finding the perfect tub for your home. Japanese soaking tubs are widely available in varying colors, materials (stainless steel, copper, wood, etc.), styles, and designs, but the fundamentals remain the same. 

Some of these tubs feature spa features, such as jets or whirlpool additions. Others feature a heating element to save water and keep your bath warm for longer without having to refill the tub. Here are a few popular soaking tubs to consider:

  • Aquatica True Ofuro Japanese Soaking Tub
  • Empava Japanese Jetted Soaking Bathtub
  • Premier Copper Products Japanese Style Soaking Bathtub

Whether you’re looking for a small, unassuming soaking tub to tuck into the corner of your bathroom or an eye-catching soaking tub to match your modern bathroom, Japanese soaking tubs are the perfect fit. These tubs are usually on the expensive end of the spectrum, but there’s quite a bit of variety. You shouldn’t have any issues finding the perfect bathtub for your bathroom, regardless of what you’re looking for.

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