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Everything You Need To Know About Japanese Soaking Tubs

A traditional wooden Japanese Soaking tub known as a Ofuru, in a tranquil Japanese spa room surrounded by rock landscaping and steam

How a Japanese Soaking Tub could change the way you relax and restore your body.

Japanese soaking tubs have arrived! One of the very latest trends in home bathing, they offer a space-saving, stylish, oriental-style bathing experience.

The unique feature of the Japanese soaking tub is that you sit down to soak. So as you take time out of your busy life to recharge your body and mind, you’re also looking after your posture. It’s the perfect place to unwind and indulge.

But what exactly is a Japanese soaking tub? And what are the other benefits making it a must-have addition to your bathroom? Read on to find out!

What is a Japanese soaking tub?

A Japanese soaking tub is a deep, steep-sided bath, which the bather sits in, rather than lying, and soaks in warm water, fully immersed up to their chest or shoulders.

Inspired by the traditional Japanese ‘Ofuro’, a square-sided wooden tub, the modern Japanese soaking tub has a bench seat, enabling the bather to soak their body in comfort, while maintaining good posture.

A little bit of history.

Today’s Japanese soaking tub has its origins in the ancient Japanese ritual of ablution, or purification. An important part of Japanese culture, this was a ceremonial form of spiritual and physical renewal, in which the body was cleansed and the soul purified.

Traditionally, ablution would begin with a shower, running water being the chosen way to clear the skin of impurities. An entirely natural process without the use of soap, the shower would be followed by immersion up to the chest in a traditional Japanese soaking tub or ‘Ofuro’.

The bather would step into this deep wooden container, filled with mineralised water up to 50˚C in temperature. Then, as they might have done in the spring waters of a natural spa, they would sit down and soak.

The experience was not just cleansing. It’s said to have been good for the immune system, had cardiovascular benefits and played a part in detoxifying the body of pathogens.

The modern Japanese soaking tub can now be seen in the bathrooms of houses, apartments, luxury spas and bijou hotels. It’s fast becoming one of the latest trends in contemporary bathroom furniture, but it owes its popularity to the spiritual solemnity of old Japan with its ceremony and ritual.

japanese soaking tubs

But it’s just a bath, right?

No! It’s true that Japanese soaking tubs have become a super-popular addition to the modern bathroom, with more and more people appreciating the benefits of having one in their own home. But their popularity in today’s bathroom is precisely because they offer that little bit more than a regular bath.

So what are the benefits of a Japanese soaking tub?

Stylish, contemporary and comfortable, a Japanese soaking tub will introduce you to a new and deeply relaxing way of bathing.


People rave about the comfort of their Japanese soaking tub. In the West, we’re accustomed to lying down in the bath, semi-prone, legs stretched out, head and shoulders propped up by the back of the bath. It’s the ultimate relax... until you’ve tried a Japanese soaking tub!
Soaking in a Japanese soaking tub brings a whole new meaning to unwinding. Rather than lying down, you sit upright, on the built-in bench seat. Your feet are below your waist, your back is straight, your head and shoulders are naturally supported by your spine. It’s so comfortable – with none of the pressure on your shoulders and neck you may feel when you’re lying in a traditional bath.


As well as fitting neatly into the smallest of spaces, a Japanese soaking tub is a convenient addition to the bathroom for people who want to soak alone or in company.
Japanese soaking tubs come with lots of features, so you can customise your experience: jets, grab-rails, and a wide variety of design options. And because they’re more compact than a standard bathtub, it’s easy to fit them where you want – against a wall, in a corner, submerged, semi-submerged, or free-standing majestically in the middle of the room.
And you can have a shower fitted above, with shower screen if you wish, making your Japanese soaking tub a handy alternative to a traditional bath – and giving a nod to the pre-soak skin-cleansing ritual of days gone by.

Contemporary style

Unsurprisingly, Japanese soaking tubs have evolved significantly from the origin of their species, the square-sided, wooden Ofuro.

They now come in a wide choice of materials, including copper, stone and stainless steel, as well as traditional wood, and the cheaper, more mainstream materials of the common bath, like acrylic and fibreglass.

Investing in a Japanese soaking tub is a real opportunity for you to add a Wow! factor to your inside space. There are some beautiful designs on the market. You’ll find tubs embodying contemporary elegance and historic solemnity, complementing modern lifestyle trends, while also telling something of the Japanese soaking tub’s unique story.


The Japanese soaking tub packs a real punch when it comes to water capacity. More and more people today are concerned about water use, from both a cost and environmental point of view. So knowing that water isn’t going to waste is important for the conscious bather.

Unlike a standard bath, most Japanese soaking tubs are up to 70cm deep, much deeper than your average tub. Which means, seated, you should be submerged over your shoulders. That’s every muscle getting a good old soak in hot water. The benefits and value for money speak for themselves.


As the emphasis is on depth rather than length, your Japanese soaking tub has a much smaller footprint than the traditional body-length bath, making it ideal for small spaces – the en suite, the small bathroom, the loft apartment, the city hotel.


Many models have the capacity for more than one person, so if you don’t fancy soaking solo, you can soak with a buddy.


The Japanese soaking tub allows you to escape to a bygone age of ceremony and ritual. Stepping up and into your tub could be the start of a meditative, restorative experience.

Why not explore the ancient Japanese purification ritual? Start with a cleansing shower, mineralise your water with some Dead Sea salts and dry herbs, then soak mindfully with peaceful, intentionally-chosen background music. Afterwards, exfoliate your skin slowly, and relax with a cup of aromatic green tea.

Health and wellbeing

We’ve talked about the posture positives of sitting upright in the Japanese soaking tub, compared to lying horizontal in a normal bath.

Maintaining good posture is said to bring a range of health benefits, from reducing headaches, improved sleep and less lower back pain, to more energy and better circulation and digestion.

But it could be that as you enjoy the uniquely relaxing experience of a total-immersion soak in your Japanese soaking tub, your body and mind are benefiting in other ways too.

Japanese tradition suggests that the ablution ritual had positive therapeutic effects going beyond mere relaxation. It is said to have:

  • helped detoxify the body of pathogens
  • improved cardiovascular performance
  • had metabolic benefits, improving digestion
  • strengthened the immune system
  • cleansed the skin
  • reduced stress

So, who knows? When you step into your Japanese soaking tub, you may be doing more for your health and wellbeing than the undoubted benefits of taking time out to relax, recharge and reflect on the passage of the day passed and journey of your life ahead.

For more information on Spaflow’s range of unique, bespoke Japanese soaking tubs, please do get in touch . An expert member of our team will be delighted to talk to you.