Sarasa Nishijin Sento Cafe
A charming cafe inside an old bathhouse.
One of the most unique cafes in Kyoto, Sarasa Nishijin is housed in an old sento (public bath) that dates back to the 1930s. A well-preserved traditional wooden building in the northern Kuramaguchi-dori neighborhood, the cafe’s walls are covered in lovely rose-patterned ceramic tiles, and the crumbling wall once separating men’s and women’s baths remains. Well-worn couches offer comfortable seating in which to soak it all in.
The eye-catching interior isn’t Sarasa’s only attribute. They also offer an extensive drink menu (everything from coffee to lassis to cocktails) and affordable Japanese-Western fusion food suitable for everyone’s needs; focaccia pizza, a vegan tofu avocado rice bowl and shrimp pilaf are just a few of the varied choices.
After dining in a sento cafe, why not visit a real sento? Just a short walk from Sarasa Nishijin is Funaoka Onsen, one of Kyoto’s best and oldest traditional sentos dating back to 1923. It has a retro vibe and many bathing options including a rotenburo (outdoor bath), a medicinal bath, and a denkiburo (electric bath). Funaoka’s exterior is similar to that of Sarasa’s, and the same rose tiles can be seen on its walls.
Both the cafe and sento are near some of Kyoto’s best temples. It’s a 7-minute walk from Daitoku-ji, a large complex of Zen temples, and a 20-minute walk from the famous Gold Pavilion, or Kinkaku-ji.