Japanese soaking bathtubs are quite different from bathtubs in the United States and pretty much the rest of the world. Most Americans are now starting to appreciate these designs of tubs due to the benefits they provide.
A Japanese soaking bathtubs is designed for deep soaking. They are taller than other bathtubs and come with a built-in seat and are hence not as long as other tubs. The water is filled all the way to the neck level and some herbs may be added to the hot water if so desired.
A Japanese bathtub is ideally designed purely for deep soaking and not for taking showers. You will therefore need to take a bathe in the shower and later climb inside the tub for soaking. They are the best soaking tubs since every part of your body is immersed in water.
So, what is the best Japanese soaking tub? The answer to that question will be determined by a few factors such as material, size and sometimes brand.
Here are 3 of the best Japanese Soaking bathtubs:
Pros and Cons of Japanese Soaking Bathtubs
What are the advantages and disadvantages of Japanese soaking tubs? The advantages outweigh the disadvantages by far but it is still worth looking at them. Let us start off with the pros.
1. Superior Relaxation
If you like to take long relaxing baths then a Japanese soaking tub is what you need. As mentioned, your whole body (apart from the heard) is completely immersed in the water, providing relaxation in each and every body part.
It is impossible to find the same level of relaxation in other types of tubs, unless you are looking for jetted/whirlpool tubs. You will often find that your top body is always exposed while using other types of bathtubs. This is exactly why most people are starting to appreciate these soaking tubs.
2. They are Compact
Japanese soaking tubs take up way less bathroom space compared to other types of bathtubs. Most of these soaking tubs are round or oval in shape. Due to the built-in seat, you don’t need to stretch your feet out all the way as you would with the other tubs.
For people with small bathrooms or if you just don’t like clatter in your room then these are the bathtubs to buy.
3. Can be Installed Anywhere
Unlike built-in bathtubs, Japanese soaking bathtubs are a special type of freestanding bathtubs and can hence be installed just about anywhere in the bathroom.
If you have a big bathroom, you can opt to install them in the middle of the room while folks with small bathrooms can install them adjacent to the bathroom wall same as an alcove tub.
4. They are Stylish
Japanese soaking tubs just stand out. They are tall and imposing. The fact that they are made of different materials, shapes and finishes means you can use them to style your bathroom any way you want.
Just like most freestanding tubs, Japanese soaking tubs are just so elegant compared to other types of bathtubs. Choose a color finish that will help complement your bathroom décor, and bathing for you will never be the same again.
5. They save Water
Due to their compact size, Japanese bathtubs use way less water than the other types of bathtubs while at the same time providing a better soaking experience. The fact that your whole body is immersed in the tub means you only need little water to fill the extra space that your body does not occupy.
Also, unlike in the other types of tubs where your body is stretched out hence need more water, in a Japanese soaking tub you are almost in a squatting position, hence your body is squeezed together.
6. Better Heat Retention
If you put hot water in a plate and a mug and then wait out for 30 minutes, which water will retain more heat? The water in the mug will definitely remain hot longer than the one in a plate. This is because there is less exchange of heat between the water and the surrounding air.
This is also the case with Japanese soaking tubs compared with other types of tubs. As you know by now, Japanese tubs have a smaller opening than other tub types meaning heat loss is minimized. This is another reason why Japanese soaking tubs are perfect for those long and deep soaking sessions.
The following are the disadvantages of Japanese soaking tubs:
1. They are Expensive
When it comes to bathtubs, cost is a function of so many factors but Japanese soaking tubs are just more expensive compared with other tubs. It is almost impossible to find a Japanese soaking tub for under $1000.
Soaking tubs made of superior materials like copper, wood and cultured stones are way more expensive than those made of materials such as acrylic. Their installation is however not as expensive.
2. Restrictive for Some People
The rim of a Japanese soaking bathtub is quite high from the ground. This will definitely pose a problem for the elderly, children and people with limited mobility. Thankfully, you can buy a walk-in soaking tub if you are old or have mobility problems.
Some Japanese soaking bathtubs usually come with a stool to help you climb in and out of the tub. If you feel like that is something you might need make sure that you buy one.
On the other hand if a walk-in tub sounds like the better idea, the Ellas Bubbles 60″ x 30” is a particularly nice one. Check it out here on Amazon
3. Have no Storage
While soaking in the tub, you will definitely want somewhere to keep your few necessities like a towel or a bottle of wine. Unfortunately these tubs do not have anywhere for you to place such.
You might therefore need to invest in a decent storage shelf or stool to go with your equally great tub. Otherwise you might one day be forced to climb out of the tub to go grab your towel from elsewhere, while drippings with water.
Best Japanese Soaking Bathtubs
Now that we have a good understanding of what Japanese bathtubs are including their benefits and limitations, let us look at the reviews of the best ones to buy in the market.
1. Aquatica True Ofuro Japanese Soaking Bathtub
In Japanese, ofuro means bathtub. Bathing in Japan is more of a ritual/tradition than just something you do to relax. People there have a special relationship with water.
The Aquatica True Ofuro soaking bathtub has been inspired by this Japanese tradition while its design borrows heavily from the original Japanese ofuro bathtubs. Although these tubs were mostly made from wood, the concept is the same.
This bathtub is made of Aquatex. That is not a material you hear about every day. It is a technologically advanced solid surface material, developed by Aquatica, the company that makes these tubs.
Aquatex is composed of 60% of an aluminum material that is derived from bauxite, while the rest is high quality acrylic resins. It is therefore quite solid but a bit pricey.
The rim of this tub is quite thick and rounded. This makes it easier for users to climb in and out of the tub, as you can even sit or lean on the rim if you are not very physically strong.
For your comfort, this bathtub has an ergonomic back rest to support your back, neck and head. Instead of it being straight, the back is nicely sloping from the top of the tub to the top of the in-built seat. It is able to do this while at the same time being so compact.
Aquatica True Ofuro soaking bathtub also features an integrated but discreet overflow. You cannot see the overflow from outside the tub which is a really genius design. As a result, the tub is so sleek with a minimalist appeal that is also low maintenance.
This bathtub uses Aquatica’s Nordic insulation system to help it retain heat for a long time. The system creates an air chamber that prevents heat loss, making the tub energy efficient as you don’t need to keep adding hot water. This is especially great if you do not own a big water heater.
For folks who might have difficulties climbing in and out the tub, you can also get the beautiful natural American walnut step stool. Apart from its primary use, these step stool also works as a bathroom accessory.
There are 3 sizes of this bathtub. You should buy the size you need based on the space available in your bathroom as well as the cash you have available for the project. The sizes available are:
- 43 L x 43 W x 37.25 H
- 51.5 L x 36.25 W x 33.75 H
- 61.5 L x 49.25 W x 37.25 H
These tubs come with a 25-year warranty.
2. Premier Copper Products Japanese Style Soaking Bathtub
Copper bathtubs are so elegant and stylish. Whether you are more inclined to a rustic/vintage or modern bathroom décor idea a copper bathtub will never look out of place. Premier Copper Products BTR45DB Japanese-style soaking bathtub is one of the best soaking copper bathtubs.
Unlike other bathtubs which are more or less manufactured goods, copper bathtubs are actually handmade by some of the best coppersmiths, a trade that is passed from one generation to another.
This product is made from a 16-gauge 100% recycled and pure copper. As a result, it is quite solid and will last a lifetime. It comes with an oil rubbed bronze finish, which is quite attractive and can be used to match other bathroom accessories like faucets and sinks.
In case you are wondering if a copper bathtub is safe to use, high-end copper tubs like these ones are made of pure copper (with less than 0.01% lead) and are hence very safe to use.
Another concern people have is their ability to retain heat. Copper bathtubs can be cold when not in use but as soon as you start filling them with hot water they heat up pretty quick since copper is a fantastic conductor of heat. They are also designed in a way that heat does not escape to the surrounding but rather remains in the water for those long uninterrupted baths.
It comes with a predrilled 2-inch drain hole but features no overflow. The faucets can be floor-mounted or wall-mounted. This will depend on the position you wish to install the tub.
This being a round tub, its dimensions are 45 inches in diameter and a height of 36 inches. The internal dimensions are a diameter of 39 inches and an in-built seat measuring 18 inches in length, 14 inches width and 12 inches high.
The one thing you have to remember about copper bathtubs is that they are quite heavy. They therefore may be unsuitable for some upstairs bathrooms especially if you have a weak floor. The Premier Copper Japanese soaking tub weighs 200 pounds.
This bathtub comes with a lifetime warranty.
3. Empava Japanese Jetted Soaking Bathtub
If you are looking to take relaxation a notch higher but for cheaper, Empava Freestanding Air Hydrotherapy Oval Japanese SPA Tub EMPV-JTX011 Bathtub is a worthwhile option.
As I had mentioned, bathtubs are usually made of different materials. The 2 we have looked at above are made of high cost materials and are as a result quite expensive. This tub is made of acrylic which is a more affordable material.
Acrylic bathtubs have many good qualities like good heat retention, easy cleaning and also do not chip or crack. They are however prone to scratching and staining, and may flex after years of usage.
Apart from being a soaking bathtub, this Empava tub is also jetted. A jetted tub is what is also known as a whirlpool tub. I often hear people confuse Jacuzzi and whirlpool/jetted tubs. Jacuzzi is brand that makes jetted tubs. They were the first in the game and that’s why the 2 are used interchangeably.
A whirlpool tub like these one uses water jets and air bubbles to massage your body especially muscles and joints instead of depending purely on the hot water. The Empava soaking tub has 48 air pin-size jets which produce thousands of warm bubbles, providing a low pressure massage.
The tub is made of heavy gauge pure acrylic, reinforced with fiberglass and supported with a stainless steel frame. This gives it a bearing capacity of 440 pounds. The double-walled insulation makes sure your water stays at the desired temperature.
The good thing about this tub is that you can also use it as a bathtub-shower-combo. Its showerhead which is installed next to the ergonomic knob controls has 2 spray settings to suit your preferences.
Unlike other tubs where you have to buy accessories separately, this one comes with everything. Chrome polished drain, faucets, showerhead, knobs and jets are predrilled and preinstalled for an any easy installation process.
The dimensions of the Empava jetted Japanese soaking tub are 47.24 inches length, 31.49 inches width and 30.7 inches in height. The soaking depth is 21 inches. If you have a bigger space, you can buy a bigger tub with a length of 67 inches.
It comes with a 3-year limited parts warranty.
Outdoor Japanese Soaking Tubs
Outdoor soaking tubs provides relaxation and rejuvenation of both the body and mind. They are especially great if installed in a quite environment like a garden where the air is fresh.
Originally, Japanese outdoor soaking tubs were made of aromatic wood like cedar but these days they are made of just about any material as long as it can hold water. While you can still find one made of wood, they are quite pricey and out of reach for many people.
Some of the advantages of having an outdoor Japanese soaking tub include:
1. Exceptional Relaxation
I believe that whatever we see with our eyes directly influences how our brain functions. That is why a sea view or garden view room in hotels costs more than other rooms. Beauty is therapeutic to the mind.
Having an outdoor soaking tub servers 2 purposes. While the hot water provides relaxation to the body muscles, the outdoor atmosphere provides recharging and rejuvenation of the mind.
2. Don’t Need to Be Expensive
While most Japanese soaking tubs installed in bathrooms are quite pricey, outdoor soaking tubs don’t need to be. There are so many materials to choose from some cheap and some expensive. Just choose what your budget allows you to.
There are actually many foldable soaking tubs in the market that go for under $100. Although they don’t last as long as wooden tubs and have relatively poor heat retention, they still get the job done.
Before buying an outdoor Japanese soaking tub, I would advise that you erect a fence or have thick plantation to create privacy from public eyes.
If you are looking for a great outdoor soaking tub, the ALFI brand AB1187 57″ Freestanding Rubber Wooden Soaking Bathtub is a fantastic choice. It is made of natural wood and can be installed in the bathroom or outdoors. Check it out here on Amazon
For folks looking for something cheap then the G Ganen Unisex Portable Foldable 3 Layer PVC SPA Freestanding Bathtub is a quality and affordable one. Check it out here.