A couple months before going to Japan, we went over for an evening of browsing travel books at Elliot Bay. Vic talked me out a big pile of things, but I did leave with two slim Wallpaper* City Guides: one for Tokyo and one for Kyoto. I’ve turned into a big fan of guide books with less blah blah blah, which is usually out of date and of little interest to me anyhow, and into picture books. Something I can grasp in my over-crowded brain and latch on to.
I know of the magazine Wallpaper but honestly have no idea what might separate it from Dwell or other magazines of that ilk. The guides are terribly twee and all I can say is that my life is fortunate enough that some of the things in it I could probably afford if I wanted to, though most of what they show you likely takes months to get reservations and is certainly out of our budget. Also, how many chair designers are there in the world and how in the heck do you ship these things around? I have no idea.
Yet, there were things in both books I would have never have found in a Lonely Planet and and certainly enjoyed.
Edoyu Spa in Tokyo got the first page of the Tokyo “Sports & Spas: Work Out, Chill Out or Just Watch” section. It is described this way: “Kyoto-based designer Hisanobu Tsujimura has created an inner-city sento that is informed by its location at the heard of old Tokyo. For this late 2007 renovation, he used prints by Hokusai (who lived in this area) to decorate the walls and locally sourced, handmade materials.” I guess I’d have described it very differently, which is one reason I don’t work for Wallpaper*.
Edoyu Spa is freakin’ awesome and tough to find if you’re using a Wallpaper* Guide since the only print they address and Tokyo addresses make no sense. The tourist map you’re likely carrying in your pocket is of little use lacking detail for anything out of the main tourist areas or center of the city. It’s best to get this in your phone first and use GPS.
It’s easy to miss the non-descript building from the street, but once inside it’s heaven. For those of you who don’t snore and aren’t carrying much, it could make a fine place to spend the night after a nice long bath. They have a bank of relaxing lounge chairs in a semi-dark room with small televisions: think seating in first-class (though I have no idea what that is actually like!) With underwear and shirts in the vending machines it appears that it’s not uncommon for Tokyo’s salary men to take a short overnight nap here before returning to work. It cost approximately $25 to enter and if I understood them correctly, they charge an additional fee for people who stay past midnight.
I have never been in a nicer bath/sento/banya than Edoyu. Perhaps they exist and I’m looking forward to getting out into the country-side to try the onsens, but if all the baths are even half as nice as Edoyu, I am going to be very happy.
Edoyu Spa is located at 1-5-8 Kamesawa, Sumida-ku, T 03 3621 2611. Here’s their website if you can read Japanese www.edoyu.com/ryougoku/