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I’ve been to a number of sentou (public bath) and onsen (hot spring bath) all over Japan by now. In some of these (both sentou and onsen), I saw bathtubs labelled 電気風呂. I know enough Japanese kanji to read this as denki furo or electric bath but I do not know enough Japanese to understand what this is about (and arguably I might be reading it wrong and thus attempting to understand it wrong).

All the sources I could find by Googling are in Japanese and thus way above my level.

Surely a 電気風呂 isn’t a bath with an electric current going through it, but then what in the world is it?

Note: I have not been brave enough to just go inside and try it out.

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    I see that Wiktionary has an entry here: 電気風呂, looks like your reading is correct. Dec 10, 2019 at 4:47
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    You're absolutely correct. The one I went to had different strengths of electricity, and also the strength depended on your distance from the electrodes at the back. If you do try it, I recommend starting further out and wait for a while, see how it feels, and gradually work your way inwards as a pace you're happy with. Dec 10, 2019 at 7:38
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    "Surely a 電気風呂 isn’t a bath with an electric current going through it" Oh, but that's exactly what it is Dec 10, 2019 at 13:19
  • Only in Japan ;-)
    – Mawg
    Dec 10, 2019 at 15:03

1 Answer 1

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The 電気風呂 passes a mild electric current so when you sit between the electrodes, you feel a slight tingly feeling. It’s usually one of the many different types of individual bath options (including jet baths) that a super bathhouse (スーパー銭湯) might have.

They warn people with weak hearts or pacemakers shouldn’t use the devices and I have to heartily (pun intended) agree.

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    And when getting zapped with electricity seems too tame, you can glow with good health after a radioactive bath! forum.gaijinpot.com/forum/living-in-japan/health-fitness/… Dec 10, 2019 at 6:27
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    Radon hot springs/baths are actually quite common throughout the world! But another interesting type of onsen is those with little fish which are supposed to eat the dead skin on your body
    – xuq01
    Dec 10, 2019 at 6:51
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    @xuq01 unrelated to the question: Copenhagen's aquarium has a small tank where you can put your arms up to the elbows in order to be devoured by those fishes. It feels quite good.
    – undefined
    Dec 10, 2019 at 15:09

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