Photo: SoraNews24

Iconic Kyoto Tower bathhouse to close due to coronavirus

By Oona McGee, SoraNews24

This past year has been a tough one for businesses around the world, as the coronavirus pandemic put the brakes on international travel and halted regular operations, leaving many industries worse for wear.

One of the hardest hit has been the tourist industry, and in Japan tourist hotspots like Kyoto, which draws thousands of international visitors every year, has been feeling the strain, even setting up an “Empty” tourism campaign to lure local visitors to the region.

Unfortunately, the campaign hasn’t done enough to protect businesses in the area, and soon there’ll be a large public bathhouse-shaped hole in the heart of the city, with the announcement that Kyoto Tower bathhouse Yuu is set to close its doors forever.

Yuu has long been loved by locals, guests staying at Kyoto Tower Hotel, located in the same complex, and bus travelers, who would use the baths to freshen up after long overnight bus trips arriving at Kyoto Station just across the road.

Photo: Kyoto Tower

Yuu is classified as a daiyokujo (large public bath), with separate bathing areas for men and women. In the men’s bathing area, guests can gaze at a mural of Mt Daimonji — a Kyoto mountain marked with the character “大” (“big/large”) which is set alight during the famous obon festival every August — as if they’re seeing it out of a series of windows.

Keihan Hotels & Resorts, which operates both the Kyoto Tower Hotel and the bathhouse, cited a decrease in customers due to the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for the closure of Yuu.

While the bathhouse previously operated from 7 a.m. to midnight, during the pandemic business hours were shortened to 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. (last admission at 8:30 p.m.). This all proved to be too much for the company to bear, prompting them to announce the permanent closure of the bathing facility, with its final day of business set for June 30.

People online were saddened by the news, saying:

“Such a shame. I used to love the hot spring fountain in the middle of the bath there.”

“So sad to hear this. I always looked forward to bathing there after a long day sightseeing in the city.”

“I’m going to have to take one final bath there before they close, for memory’s sake.”

“One of Kyoto’s prized sites gone forever.”

“I’d prefer it if they took away the tower and left the bathhouse there!”

The bathhouse has certainly left an impression on travelers around Japan. Sadly, it’s not the first business casualty we’ve seen during the pandemic, with the oldest ryokan at an onsen resort and a historic restaurant from the Edo period also closing their doors due to the dramatic decrease in customers.

With businesses continuing to struggle around Japan as nine of the country’s prefectures now find themselves under a state of emergency due to a rise in coronavirus cases, those vaccines can’t come soon enough.

Source: Traicy Japan via Net Lab

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Kyoto starts new “Empty” tourism campaign to attract tourists during coronavirus outbreak

-- Oldest ryokan at Japanese onsen resort goes bankrupt due to coronavirus

-- Japanese restaurant from the Edo Period forced to close due to coronavirus pandemic

© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Perfect definition of delayed reaction.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Kyoto has become too dependent on Chinese money.

16 ( +16 / -0 )

There are Edo village theme parks in Japan showcasing life during the Shogun era. I've learned that visiting Kyoto and seeing the temples is similar to traveling back to the Tang dynasty for the Chinese. I'm sure they'll return once things return to normal.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Sad, i hope someone will be able to rescue this place and bring it back to life.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I feel bad for the employees. But you need to look around where you live in Japan and fine hidden treasures.

In the Takachiho area here in Miyazaki is a town frozen in time. Edo era buildings and the folk still cook with wood stoves and cook rice in the iron pots over fire. I love the burned bits left with miso soup ナナメシ. Amazing place to visit. I'm sure your area has a place like this if you take time and look.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

These bath houses are one of the cornerstones of Japanese culture and should be protected at all costs!

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Kyoto has become too dependent on Chinese money.

Same as Osaka City. Walking down Shinsainbashisuji, many businesses closed that depended on Chinese customers especially those selling beauty products or diapers.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Been there a couple of times. Interesting place. I prefer cheaper local bathhouses when I visit Kyoto. Many old machiya style houses don’t have baths, so if you visit Kyoto, you can find many local places, many with natural water.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Kyoto has become too dependent on Chinese money.

That can be said of many other places in Japan.

Too many businesses put all their eggs in the "cater to the Chinese" basket.

Short-sightedness, IMO.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@SanjinosebleedToday  08:43 am JST

These bath houses are one of the cornerstones of Japanese culture and should be protected at all costs

nothing should be “too big to fail”. It’s nature.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

These bath houses are one of the cornerstones of Japanese culture

This one is just a super sento in a hotel.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It IS a shame..never got to got here and I consider myself an onsen freak.

The view was great, I bet…oh well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That tower has always been an eyesore. I remember being shocked by it the first time I visited Kyoto.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Meanwhile, Nihonjinron folks will continue saying that China is not important for Japan’s existence. Just look at this article and all of Japanese service sectors, then they will probably change their mind.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Had the Sento made discounts for the local Japanese then it probably would have continued.

Many businesses in Japan were too shortsighted and stopped catering to local people in preference to tourists-their loss...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

More damage done by these moronic bureaucrats with their meaningless Corona rules.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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