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Japanese culture has long been associated with public bath houses. There are sento (public bath houses in the town) as well as onsen (hot springs). They come in different shapes in sizes, but at the base, they both have the same system: an entrance, a washing space, and a bath! Here, I would like to introduce 7 essential items to enjoy your sento/onsen experience to the fullest.

1. Money

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Money can be exchanged for goods and services. Yes, some sento and onsen are free, but most of them require money. It would be good if you have some change handy, since most lockers (for shoes and for clothes) use 100 or 10 yen coins.

2. Small Towels (Tenugui)

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Small towels can be used to tie up long hair, hide your private places, and wash your body. A tenugui is a small towel, about 30 cm wide and 90 cm long. They are made from cotton, which makes them easy to dry and wash. They come in different patterns and colors, as seen in the image above. 

3. Large Towels

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Large towels can be used to dry your body in the changing room. Some people use small towels too, but its better to wipe quickly with a dry large towel.

4. Shampoos, Conditioners, Body Wash

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Some places offer shampoo, conditioners and body wash at the washing place, or sell them at the counter. But you can never be too sure. Don’t take your whole 500 ml bottle. Put them into little containers, like the image above, or buy miniature sized bottles at the store.

5. Hair Ties or Shower Cap (If You Have Long Hair)

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If you have long hair, it’s better if you tie it up with a hair band, or keep it in one place with a shower cap at the washing place or in the bath. It is bad manners to keep your hair down in baths too. 

6. Change Of Clothes

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Nobody likes wearing dirty clothes. If you don’t want to bring a big luggage and you don’t mind wearing the same clothes again, then keep a change of underwear handy. 

7. Bags To Put All Things Mentioned Above

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Some places have lockers to put in your bags. Make sure to keep watch of all your things, and don’t leave anything behind.

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