Tokyo’s Adachi Ward offers public bath perks to donors

The Yomiuri Shimbun
One of the 26 public bathhouses in Adachi Ward is seen on Oct. 7.

Make a contribution under the central government’s furusato nozei hometown tax system and receive the privilege of taking a bath before anyone else at a sento public bathhouse — this is the scheme launched by Tokyo’s Adachi Ward.

Behind the initiative is the ward’s desire to promote public bathhouses, one of the main attractions in the ward, as well as to drive interest to the area.

Adachi Ward is home to 26 public bathhouses, the fourth highest number among Tokyo’s 23 wards, according to the Tokyo Sento Association.

The ward had already been promoting local public bathhouses as a tourism draw, and in collaboration with a local bathhouse association it devised the new perk to make its sento widely known among people living outside the ward.

Under the furusato nozei tax system, people can make donations to local governments of their choice, and the amount is considered tax paid to the donor’s own municipality. Local governments have been hard at work producing attractive thank-you gifts that will secure them tax revenue and promote their local specialties.

The ward’s bathhouse perk, awarded for donations of ¥50,000 or more, allows the donor to take a bath before anyone else at one of the 26 public bathhouses, and have exclusive use of the facility for up to two hours with a group of up to five people. As each of the bathhouses has different features, such as an open-air bath or a designer bath, donors can select which one they would like to use their perk at. The perk also includes shampoo, a promotional towel and a soft drink so the donor can fully enjoy the experience.

“There are many people who like to be the first one in the bath at public bathhouses. This can be seen in the lines that often form before public bathhouses open for the day,” said Tomotaka Yamada, 64, a representative of the local bathhouse association. “We hope people will take this opportunity to experience the appeal of the ward’s public bathhouses.”