All About Japanese Soaking Tubs

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February 5, 2013
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  This owner created an enclosed garden to enjoy his soaking tub, enhancing the feel of a private sanctuary by carefully placing a mirror that reflects a lantern and path. Zen BathWorks in Alaska (formerly Sea Otter Works) made this Red Cedar tub, and sometimes has popular sizes ready to ship. Notice the drain to capture water flowing over the top. Photo courtesy of: Zen BathWorks
    This owner created an enclosed garden to enjoy his soaking tub, enhancing the feel of a private sanctuary by carefully placing a mirror that reflects a lantern and path. Zen BathWorks in Alaska (formerly Sea Otter Works) made this Red Cedar tub, and sometimes has popular sizes ready to ship. Notice the drain to capture water flowing over the top. Photo courtesy of: Zen BathWorks
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  On an organic beef ranch in Wyoming, Lynn Morrison and her architect James Cline, specified a two-person wide tub of Port Orford Cedar, canted to 5 degrees at the ends and long enough to recline. Lynn likes to relax as she gazes at the plains outside. “I love the lemony scent that fills the room when the tub is full of hot water,” she says. The tub is from Zen BathWorks, which also sells acrylic soaking tubs. Photo courtesy of: Zen BathWorks
    On an organic beef ranch in Wyoming, Lynn Morrison and her architect James Cline, specified a two-person wide tub of Port Orford Cedar, canted to 5 degrees at the ends and long enough to recline. Lynn likes to relax as she gazes at the plains outside. “I love the lemony scent that fills the room when the tub is full of hot water,” she says. The tub is from Zen BathWorks, which also sells acrylic soaking tubs. Photo courtesy of: Zen BathWorks
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  Deep in the Italian countryside a few hours from Rome, a fashion advertising couple left their frenetic life in Milan and remodeled a trio of 15-century buildings into a Japanese-style inn and center for Japanese culture. Their giant Hinoki tub from Bartok Design in Japan was carefully positioned to take advantage of seasonal views through the sliding windows.  “The images and scents were extraordinary,” said one Italian visitor to the center who took a soak, “I revisit them in my mind every day.” Photo courtesy of: Bartok Design and WabiSabi Culture Japanese Center
    Deep in the Italian countryside a few hours from Rome, a fashion advertising couple left their frenetic life in Milan and remodeled a trio of 15-century buildings into a Japanese-style inn and center for Japanese culture. Their giant Hinoki tub from Bartok Design in Japan was carefully positioned to take advantage of seasonal views through the sliding windows. “The images and scents were extraordinary,” said one Italian visitor to the center who took a soak, “I revisit them in my mind every day.” Photo courtesy of: Bartok Design and WabiSabi Culture Japanese Center
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  Japanese showers are usually set low down so the bather can sit on a stool and scrub, then pour cedar buckets of hot water over their heads for a refreshing rinse. This homeowner in Venice, California mounted a handheld shower head on the wall for added flexibility. The drain is under the removable cedar floor slats, keeping the room design uncluttered. Wood tubs are cleaned with a simple rinse and last for decades, as the antiseptic properties of cedar guard against mold and rot. This ofuro was designed by Santiago Ortiz and fabricated by Bartok Design.  Courtesy of Art Gray.

    Japanese showers are usually set low down so the bather can sit on a stool and scrub, then pour cedar buckets of hot water over their heads for a refreshing rinse. This homeowner in Venice, California mounted a handheld shower head on the wall for added flexibility. The drain is under the removable cedar floor slats, keeping the room design uncluttered. Wood tubs are cleaned with a simple rinse and last for decades, as the antiseptic properties of cedar guard against mold and rot.

    This ofuro was designed by Santiago Ortiz and fabricated by Bartok Design.

    Courtesy of Art Gray.
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  This family in Switzerland asked for a removable seat when they ordered an extra thick tub from Bartok Design, owned by an Italian architect who uses cedar from the Kiso valley, one of the few sources of Hinoki. Soaking tubs are usually smaller than conventional tubs as the bather sits with knees to chest, says owner Iacopo Torrini, but since most tubs are made to order, customers outside Japan often specify longer tubs to stretch out. Photo courtesy of: Bartok Design
    This family in Switzerland asked for a removable seat when they ordered an extra thick tub from Bartok Design, owned by an Italian architect who uses cedar from the Kiso valley, one of the few sources of Hinoki. Soaking tubs are usually smaller than conventional tubs as the bather sits with knees to chest, says owner Iacopo Torrini, but since most tubs are made to order, customers outside Japan often specify longer tubs to stretch out. Photo courtesy of: Bartok Design
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  Tubs can be partly sunk for easier access, as in this tub from Zen BathWorks. The river rocks at the base hide a linear drain, but tubs can also have a regular overflow or drain onto a wet-proofed bathroom floor, says Bill Finlay, of Zen BathWorks. Jennifer Aniston bought a Port Orford Cedar tub from him when she turned the “his” part of the bathroom she shared with Brad Pitt into a spa after the couple split up. Bill says many customers site their tub, known as an ofuro in Japanese, to enjoy a view.  Photo courtesy of: Zen BathWorks
    Tubs can be partly sunk for easier access, as in this tub from Zen BathWorks. The river rocks at the base hide a linear drain, but tubs can also have a regular overflow or drain onto a wet-proofed bathroom floor, says Bill Finlay, of Zen BathWorks. Jennifer Aniston bought a Port Orford Cedar tub from him when she turned the “his” part of the bathroom she shared with Brad Pitt into a spa after the couple split up. Bill says many customers site their tub, known as an ofuro in Japanese, to enjoy a view. Photo courtesy of: Zen BathWorks
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  Grace Boyd’s favorite room has a stunning view of Puget Sound reflected in the Hinoki tub she had custom-sized by Roberts Hot Tubs. The clean lines of soaking tubs “work well in conventional bathrooms,” says Roberts’ Andrew Harris, “no need to make the whole room Japanese-style.” Grace echoed the grey of the sea and sky in the sinks and the silvery pebbles around the tub. After 32 years in West Seattle, she asked architect Mark Travers to build her a new house in the same spot- she couldn’t bear to lose her view. Tubs are popping up in real estate listings as a selling point; new owners can have an existing tub sanded to reveal a fresh layer of pristine scented wood. Photo courtesy of: Roberts Hot Tubs
    Grace Boyd’s favorite room has a stunning view of Puget Sound reflected in the Hinoki tub she had custom-sized by Roberts Hot Tubs. The clean lines of soaking tubs “work well in conventional bathrooms,” says Roberts’ Andrew Harris, “no need to make the whole room Japanese-style.” Grace echoed the grey of the sea and sky in the sinks and the silvery pebbles around the tub. After 32 years in West Seattle, she asked architect Mark Travers to build her a new house in the same spot- she couldn’t bear to lose her view. Tubs are popping up in real estate listings as a selling point; new owners can have an existing tub sanded to reveal a fresh layer of pristine scented wood. Photo courtesy of: Roberts Hot Tubs
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  Close to Lake Tahoe, Roberts Hot Tubs built this teak tub to take advantage of stunning views, positioning it next to a two-sided fireplace. The drain is hidden under river rocks. Teak is a good choice for an outdoor tub as it withstands the elements.  Roberts Hot Tubs prices ofuros from $5895, says Andrew Harris, and they take 60-90 days to build – they can even include jets. Other manufacturers have similar prices and lead times for a made-to-measure tub. Photo courtesy of: Roberts Hot Tubs
    Close to Lake Tahoe, Roberts Hot Tubs built this teak tub to take advantage of stunning views, positioning it next to a two-sided fireplace. The drain is hidden under river rocks. Teak is a good choice for an outdoor tub as it withstands the elements. Roberts Hot Tubs prices ofuros from $5895, says Andrew Harris, and they take 60-90 days to build – they can even include jets. Other manufacturers have similar prices and lead times for a made-to-measure tub. Photo courtesy of: Roberts Hot Tubs
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  A soaking tub satisfies both “bath people” and “shower people” as bathers wash outside the tub, then soak in clean, deep hot water. The owner of this penthouse asked Roberts Hot Tubs for a teak tub next to his shower. Soaking tubs can have straight or sloping sides and can be any shape. They use more water than regular tubs, but since bathers soak when clean, it’s common to add a re-circulating heater and filter. Tub makers offer wooden lids to keep the water hot - in Japan the same water is typically used by the whole family. Photo courtesy of: Roberts Hot Tubs
    A soaking tub satisfies both “bath people” and “shower people” as bathers wash outside the tub, then soak in clean, deep hot water. The owner of this penthouse asked Roberts Hot Tubs for a teak tub next to his shower. Soaking tubs can have straight or sloping sides and can be any shape. They use more water than regular tubs, but since bathers soak when clean, it’s common to add a re-circulating heater and filter. Tub makers offer wooden lids to keep the water hot - in Japan the same water is typically used by the whole family. Photo courtesy of: Roberts Hot Tubs
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  Zen BathWorks strengthened this large tub with an apron that doubles as a cup rest. The room’s walls are wood-clad to reduce visual clutter and the tub rim is indented to direct water towards a floor drain shared by a shower. Soaking tubs are often smaller than conventional tubs as the bather sits with knees to chest-great if you have a small bathroom but want a tub. Sides can be sloped or straight and wood with knots generally costs less than straight-grained planks.  If you’re curious about cedar’s scent, the bars sold in hardware stores for use as a moth-repellent give a general idea. Photo courtesy of: Zen BathWorks
    Zen BathWorks strengthened this large tub with an apron that doubles as a cup rest. The room’s walls are wood-clad to reduce visual clutter and the tub rim is indented to direct water towards a floor drain shared by a shower. Soaking tubs are often smaller than conventional tubs as the bather sits with knees to chest-great if you have a small bathroom but want a tub. Sides can be sloped or straight and wood with knots generally costs less than straight-grained planks. If you’re curious about cedar’s scent, the bars sold in hardware stores for use as a moth-repellent give a general idea. Photo courtesy of: Zen BathWorks
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