Is a Japanese Soaking Tub Worth It? 11 Pros & Cons + Alternatives


Japanese Soaking TubEven though buying a Japanese soaking tub for your home is expensive it can be well worth it.

Japanese soaking tubs are expensive, starting at around $5,000 per tub. However, this type of tub can be worth the expense both because of its many health benefits and because it will add value to your home. The style of the tub is flexible, so you can find a tub in the format that will best suit the space in your bathroom.

In this article, find out everything you need to know about Japanese soaking tubs and why these tubs in particular are so great for stress relief.

 

Is a Japanese Soaking Tub Worth It?

With my husband and son in the bamboo forest
Here’s my family at the bamboo forest near Kyoto, Japan

I discovered the wonders of a Japanese soaking tub a few years ago during a trip to Japan. I stayed in a monastery at the top of a mountain. It was freezing cold outside.

The first afternoon I stayed in the unheated monastery, I shivered as I padded down the long hallway in my robe and slippers to the bathing room, where I soaked up to my neck in a wooden, steamy Japanese tub called an “ofuro.”

Honestly, my life changed in those 20 minutes as I realized the power of water to heal.

It’s no wonder that the traditional Japanese soaking tub plays an important part in Japanese culture. For generations, the Japanese people have enjoyed the country’s deep soaking and cleansing rituals, indoors in the soaking tubs and outdoors in the hot springs.

Today, many Westerners embrace the Japanese soaking tub as a way to relieve the stresses and strains of modern-day living. Read on to discover what a Japanese soaking tub costs, how one differs from a regular bathtub and why you might want to get one for your home.

 

Costs of a Japanese Soaking Tub

Japanese bath with flowers and kimono

Buying a Japanese soaking tub can be a costly investment – but one that can increase the value of your home. You’ll need to factor in the cost of the tub itself, installation, and the faucet (also called a “filler”).

Tub

The price of a Japanese soaking tub is determined by the size and tub material. For example:

  • A freestanding hydro system soaker tub with an acrylic finish can cost $2251.76 for a standard tub.  
  • A copper soaking tub designed to fit 2 people will cost around $5,732.00. 
  • A small cedar Ofuro intended for a single person can start at $6,865.00 for a basic tub. Additionals like water jets will cost extra. (source)

Installation

You’ll also need to consider the cost of installing the tub which can run as high as the tub itself, depending on how heavy the bathtub is to transport and if you’ll need additional floor supports. If you’re installing the soaking tub on an upper deck or second floor, it’s likely you will.

According to Fixr.com, homeowners spend an average of $2750 to install a 6-foot freestanding tub. But installing a stone Japanese soaking tub along with the freestanding faucet can cost up to $18,000. (source)

Faucets

Japanese soaking tubs may come with a deck-mounted faucet. Or, they may require the purchase of a separate freestanding bathtub filler or a wall-mounted faucet. 

Read about bathtub faucet types here and get my recommendations for the best freestanding waterfall tub fillers. Be aware that the most durable tub fillers have a ceramic cartridge inside rather than plastic. 

 

11 Pros and Cons of Japanese Soaking Tubs

There are so many great advantages of having a Japanese soaking tub in your home. But being aware of the few drawbacks will ensure you make an informed decision. So let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

Pros of Japanese Soaking Tubs

Soaking in Japanese Tub

 

The advantages of these tubs definitely outweigh the disadvantages. But let’s take a look:

1. Japanese Soaking Tubs Offer Deeper Soaking

A standard Japanese soaking tub is typically steep-sided, deep, and small. The standard size is about 27 inches (68.5cm) deep, but customized tubs range from 28 – 37 inches (71 – 94cm).

The size and depth of each tub is determined by the style and your requirements.

The bather can control the depth of the water in the tub, allowing for deeper water to soak the entire body or shallower water when required.

 

2. They Save Space

Traditional tubs are generally a standard size and length, taking up the bulk of the space in the bathroom. Not so with Japanese soaking tubs. These tubs are upright and can be custom designed according to the space available.

 

3. Beautiful and Stylish

 A Japanese soaking tub can easily become the focal point in your bathroom. As a freestanding tub, you can design the bathroom around the tub by placing it in the center of the room and adding the rest of the décor to match.

You can install a traditional Japanese cedarwood soaking tub in any area, inside or outside, adding your own personal style to the space.

 

4. Japanese Soaking Tubs Are Customizable

Modern homes generally have smaller bathrooms. A Japanese soaking tub is ideal for a smaller bathroom as it is designed for height and not length.

These tubs are easily customizable from many different types of material and can be tailored to suit your space.

As long as the area has waterlines and adequate floor support, installing a Japanese soaking tub is easy. (For a modern jetted version of the tub, you’ll also need access to a power outlet.)

 

5. These Tubs Are Therapeutic

Japanese soaking tubs are specifically made for soaking, and sitting upright in a tub is better for your posture than lying down. Good posture has many health benefits, from reducing headaches to more energy.

While a regular tub is great for bathing and cleansing, a total-immersion soak in a hot bath benefits your mind and your body by:

  •         Detoxifying the body
  •         Relieving aches and pains in stiff muscles
  •         Reducing the effects of stress
  •         Cleaning and exfoliating the skin
  •         Improving cardiovascular performance and improving digestion

 

6. Ideal for Families

While some tubs are designed for a single bather, traditionally, Japanese soaking tubs were designed for families to bathe together.

The only rule is for each family member to clean themselves with soap in a shower to get rid of the day’s grime before entering the tub.

Some modern tubs are designed for two bathers with two built-in seats and dual headrests.

Parents and children can soak together in a Japanese soaking tub, creating memories.

A deep soaking tub is also ideal for seniors. A relaxing soak works wonders on sore joints and muscles.  

 

 7. Eco-Friendly

There are several reasons why using a Japanese soaking tub is a good choice for the environment. First, unlike with a regular bath, you don’t soak to get clean. Instead, you soak to relax and commune with others. 

Because you shower before you get into the Japanese tub, you don’t need to drain the water after each use. Instead, you cover the “ofuro” to retain the heat, and then use the same water again, as you would with a hot tub.

Water used in the tub is generally around 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) which is considered the optimal temperature for relaxing and keeping the body warm.

Modern tubs have temperature control to allow the bather to maintain the correct temperature.

As the Japanese soaking tub is deeper than a regular tub, there is less surface area to cool down the water, so you don’t need to top up as often!

Also, Japanese soaking tubs are often made from eco-friendly recyclable materials like copper, stone resin, or wood.

 

8. Add Value to Your Home

Most homes have a master bathroom and a second bathroom. Quite often, the master bathroom is for the homeowner’s exclusive use and offers a peaceful sanctuary at the end of the day.

A freestanding tub is a popular master bathroom feature and will add value to the resale value of your home simply because of its impact on the bathroom space.

A Japanese soaking tub can provide a focal point for a luxury bathroom. According to realtors in upscale markets, a freestanding tub in the primary bathroom is a must!

 

Cons of Japanese Soaking Tubs

Japanese bath

While there aren’t many disadvantages to list, any one of these could be a deal-breaker for you, depending on your objective for getting a soaking tub:

 

1.  Not Made for Cleaning the Body

Many homeowners install a shower alongside the soaking tub for bathers to wash outside of the tub before soaking in the tub – a great way to preserve the wood of the soaking tub but an additional expense.

While regular tubs are multi-functional, traditionally, soaking tubs are generally only used for soaking, relaxing, and meditating.

If your tub is made from wood, soap and shampoo should not be allowed in the tub as they will stain the wood.

Most modern homes don’t have enough space for a bathtub and a soaking tub, so if you plan to use the tub for dual-purpose bathing and relaxing tub, consider getting an acrylic version that can handle soap. 

Also, if you get a jetted Japanese soaking tub, you’ll only be able to use bath salts and oils specifically made for a jetted tub.

 

2. Japanese Soaking Tubs Are Expensive

The actual cost of the tub will depend on the size, shape, and materials used to construct the tub.

The biggest expense will be in the installation of the tub and, in the long run, the running costs of the tub.

Installation costs could include a bathroom remodel to accommodate the tub and additional plumbing and power outlets. Most installations require the service of a professional contractor.

A deep soaking tub might use more water per soak than a regular tub, and the costs to heat the water will be more than with a regular tub.

While modern soaking tubs use a regular water heater to heat the water, some styles require an additional electric spa heater to heat the water.

 

3. You May Need to Get Used to Upright Position

Traditionally, when soaking in a regular tub, bathers lay down in the water along the full length of the tub. 

While this position can be super relaxing for most Westerners, a soaking tub has a completely different bathing style. If you’ve spent you’re whole life lying down in the tub, transitioning to a Japanese soaking tub could take some getting used to.

 

How to Choose the Perfect Japanese Soaking Tub

Japanese Soaking Bathtub

Before you choose a soaking tub, consider these points:

  • The size of the space. Measure the area in the room before ordering your tub. Make sure that you measure correctly to get the right-sized tub.
  • The style and shape of the tub. Decide if the tub will be freestanding, sunken, under-mounted, or inset. Each style requires different installation methods. For example, a freestanding tub might need a deck with steps leading to the top of the deck to enter the tub safely.
  • Are you soaking alone or with company? The size of the tub should suit your needs.
  • Is the tub comfortable? Consider how big the tub should be for your comfort.  
  • What conveniences do you need? Do you need grip rails on the sides for senior family members? Should you include a bathroom remodel?
  • What capacity should the tub be? Japanese soaking tubs are smaller than a regular tub, but they are deeper, using more water. From an environmental and a cost point of view, this could be a game-changer for you – consider adapting the outlet to recycle the grey water in your garden, thereby conserving the water you use.

 

Best Japanese Soaking Tubs

Traditional Japanese soaking tubs are made from cedar wood and there’s just nothing like the earthy Zen feel of soaking in one. But if you want a modern twist on your tub – one equipped with massaging jets – then you can certainly find that, too. Here are some of my favorite models:

 

Ofuro Wooden Soaking Tub

 

Photo of Japanese style soaking tub made of cedar wood. Available on Etsy
Customizable Japanese soaking tub made of cedar wood. See it on Etsy.

 

The customizable Ofuro Wooden Soaking Tub is an elegant, classic Japanese-styled soaking tub made from cedar wood using a combination of traditional style and modern methods.

The standard square tub measures 51.18 x 28.3 x 27.2-inches (130 x 69.1 x 72cm), but as the tub is handmade, the manufacturer will size the tub to fit your bathroom plan!

This tub does not have a built-in bench or seat, but a bottom waste drain is included.

To keep the tub in tip-top condition, simply treat the wood with oil every 6 months.

Check Price on Etsy

 

Empava Air Tub

 

The Empava Air Tub is a freestanding hydrotherapy spa tub. This tub has a Japanese-inspired design with a built-in ergonomic seating to provide maximum comfort and relaxation.

The 48-piece built-in air jet system creates tiny air bubbles that massage the soft tissue in painful areas, bringing pain relief to the area and increasing muscle relaxation.

This glossy white freestanding oval tub will complement your bathroom décor and is pre-fitted with the drain, knobs, faucet, showerhead, and jets, allowing for easy installation by a contractor.

The tub requires a power connection, water inputs, and a drain and includes a 5-year limited parts warranty.

Check Price on Amazon

 

Japanese Soaking Tubs vs. Regular Soaking Tubs

Use Hot Water for Clay Baths

Japanese soaking tubs are quite different from regular soaking tubs in many ways.

 Japanese soaking tubRegular soaking tub
Bathing styleSeatedLying down
MaterialsCedarwood, copper, acrylicFiberglass, copper, stainless steel
Depth26 – 37 inches (66.0 – 94cm)27 – 37 inches (68.5 – 94cm)
Tub shapeTypically round or cylindrical
Typically oval
Water usageAround 100 gallons (454.60 liters)Around 30 gallons (136.38 liters)
Air tub/whirlpoolYes, optional extraYes, generally, standard
Heated waterYesYes
CostFrom $5,000.00 per tubFrom $600.00 per tub

Traditional Japanese Soaking Tubs

Traditional Japanese soaking tubs called “Ofuro” were made from Hinoki wood, an ancient cypress wood native to central Japan. Modern Japanese soaking tubs are made from cedar and teak, acrylic, fiberglass, stainless steel, and copper.

Watch the video above to discover how to use a Japanese soaking bath the traditional way!

 

Alternatives to Japanese Soaking Tubs

If you love the idea of a freestanding soaking tub, but aren’t convinced that you’d like to sit up in the tub, there are some other great options to consider: 

1. Vanity Art Freestanding Bathtub

 

The Vanity Art 70.5-inch bathtub can be placed anywhere in your bathroom. Manufactured from high-quality materials, this tub is easy to clean, stain, and scratch-resistant.

4 leveling legs and a flexible drain hose are included in the price, and the manufacturer offers a 1-year parts warranty against manufacturing defects.

This freestanding bathtub is stylish, and sophisticated and will change the look of your space while adding value to your home.

Check Price on Amazon

 

2. Empava Alcove Whirlpool Hydromassage Jetted Soaking Tub

The Empava Alcove Whirlpool tub has a complete set of 11 adjustable jets situated around the tub, providing a deep, rejuvenating hydro massage to the entire body.

This tub is so stylish and can complement any bathroom. Manufactured from glossy acrylic with fiberglass reinforcement and a stainless steel frame, the tub itself weighs 660 lbs (299kgs) and can hold 42 gallons of water!

Perfect as a drop-in or 3-walled alcove installation, the front panel is made of tempered glass, adding a touch of class to the bathroom.

This tub is easy to operate and simple to use, with a slip-resistant floor and an auto shut-off function to prevent pump failures.

Check Price on Amazon

 

Another great alternative to a Japanese soaking tub is a Japanese-inspired infinity bathtub. Discover the ultimate in luxury with an infinity soaking tub.

 

So, Is a Japanese Soaking Tub Worth It?

Man relaxing in Japanese soaking tub

A Japanese soaking tub is worth it because of its many benefits. Ergonomically designed for comfort, these tubs offer a deeper soaking experience.

There is nothing that compares to the luxury of a Japanese soaking tub for an unforgettable bathing and relaxing experience!

The sheer beauty of a Japanese soaking tub makes it a beautiful addition to any space, whether indoors or outdoors.

I have discovered the wonders of the Japanese soaking tub. Read my article 3 Japanese Baths That Will Change Your Life, and learn how to rediscover your zen by soaking away your cares!

Note: If you’re remodeling a bathroom, I can send you designer hacks to help you save thousands of dollars. Sign up for my newsletter below and I’ll send you the free PDF.

Shana

Shana Burg is a bath enthusiast, content strategist, and award-winning writer. She is the founder of bathtubber.com.

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