ADVENTURE: Checking out the Kabuki bath house and spa in San Francisco’s Japantown // CRAVE: The amazing feeling of slipping into their cool baths after a hot sauna session!
I’ve always been curious about the Kabuki bath house, Kabuki Springs & Spa, located in Japantown. I’d read about it numerous times, yet it still felt like a mystery, never having walked by it or personally heard what it was like from anyone who had been. In case you are in the same boat I was, here’s your sneak peek at what a day at the Kabuki bath house is really like!
First off, the Kabuki bath house offers a range of awesome spa treatments and amenities, plus their infamous cool and hot pools for relaxing. You can book massages, facial treatments, acupuncture and more. Visiting the spa for the first time, I was excited to try a massage and the baths to see what they were all about!
Kabuki Springs & Spa is located just off of Fillmore Street, actually on the backside of the Kabuki Theater block.
Entering a quaint, green courtyard framed in a red Japanese doorway, the front desk personnel immediately greet you with a relaxed smile.
After checking in, you are led down a few winding hallways and past several Japanese sculptures to the locker rooms. Soothing, slow music plays throughout the whole building, no matter what area you are in.
The women’s locker room has a nice space to sit and relax before or after your treatments, a beautiful vanity area, and a small hallway that leads you into the communal bath area.
Of course, no spa day is complete without a massage. My masseuse, Wendy, picked me up from the relaxing area in the locker room and led me to a personal massage room.
A few candles flickered in the corner while the meditative music played quietly in the background.
I enjoyed a Shiatsu massage, a special type of Eastern massage that I had never experienced before. While your typical Western massages involve kneading, this massage uses pressure and stretching applied to different parts of your body through a thin sheet. This Japanese massage felt absolutely incredible!
In the past, Shiatsu massages sounded either less effective or too extreme so I had never opted to try them. Mistake on my part! My masseuse used her fingers, forearms, elbows and knees to apply pressure in so many different ways. Shiatsu massages also are focused on releasing energy blockages and help move energy within you. If you’re looking to check out this type of massage, the Kabuki bath house and spa is the place to do it!
After my massage, I headed to the communal baths. Entering the baths, you find yourself in one giant room, dimly light with several large lanterns. Each wall of this room has a special room or purpose. Along the first wall, there are several showers for you to rinse off before entering the spa. The next wall has a sauna with several levels of seating and amazing dry heat kept at 140 degrees to help you sweat it out! Then the far wall has the entrance to a wet heat steam room kept at 120 degrees with a table outside holding drinking water and bath salts. The final wall has a large hot pool to soak your aching muscles.
And then, in the middle of everything, there is a giant cold pool, kept at a chilling 55 degrees! A few wooden lounge chairs and recliners are spaced out around the pool.
Photo by Frankie Franekey
The best way to experience the baths is to follow the Japanese tradition of alternating between hot and cold. First, enter the steam room for 10-15 minutes, followed by submerging yourself in the chilling cold pool. Then experience the sauna for another 10-15 minutes and another dip into the cold bath. Finally, relax in the hot bath for as long as your heart desires. I did this treatment and my muscles and skin felt amazing! The cold water is absolutely freezing after the hot room treatments, but the sensation feels so good!
Now that you know a little more about the Kabuki Springs & Spa bath house, add this spot to your San Francisco bucket list!
Spa appointments should be made ahead of time and, while you can try and do walk-ins for the baths, it’s best to book prior to visiting the spa. Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays are women only while Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are men only. Tuesday is the only day they offer coed bathing.
Time to get over to the Kabuki bathhouse and start relaxing!