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- Efforts of Mikokuyu
Efforts of Mikokuyu 3-30-8 Ishiwara, Sumida-ku, Tokyo
To contribute to an area that supports the public bath culture
Creating a barrier-free bathing facility anyone can use
Mikokuyu was opened shortly after the war and has long supported Sumida's public bath culture. For a time, this area had more public baths than any other area in Tokyo, but public baths are currently going out of business one after another due to a lack of successors. As the customers who have supported the public bath culture over the years continue to age, the people running Mikokuyu asked themselves what they can do to protect public baths in this historic area and give back to the community, and the answer was to renew their bathing facilities to make them barrier-free. Shin Kataoka talked to us about the specific efforts.
Rebuilding from one-floor to three-floor facilities
We opened for business in 1947. At the time, this area wasn't much more than burnt-out ruins. In 2015, we rebuilt our facilities to make them barrier-free.
Our facilities originally had only one floor, but rebuilding them as one floor would have resulted in less space due to changes in the laws, so we changed to a three-floor structure, with a rest area on floor 1 and baths on floors 4 and 5. Elevators provide access to the baths from floor 1. We have separate elevators for men and women to prevent potentially embarrassing mistakes. Floors 4 and 5 are switched between men and women every Tuesday. Among customers who had gotten used to our one-floor public bath facilities over the years, some complained that they didn't think elevators should be used with public baths. However, none of our customers seem to have any problems with the elevators now.
In addition, we made the design of our overall facilities barrier-free, and we set up new welfare-type family baths on the 1st floor in order to make it possible for people requiring assistance and their families to take leisurely baths. Many people who require assistance do not actually want others to see them being assisted. Therefore, we set up the new family baths based on the belief that such people would benefit from a place that would free them from this type of stress to take a relaxing, worry-free bath.
Steps taken in terms of not only the facilities but also the bath-water temperature
We have gotten rid of the steps in our bathrooms, and our dressing rooms and washing places are equipped with handrails. In addition, because the bathtubs are at a lower level than the floors, elderly people and physically disabled people can get into them without having to lift their legs much.
On top of that, we have lukewarm hot springs kept at a temperature of 35 to 36℃ on the 4th floor, which make it possible to take a bath without putting too much stress on your heart. Elderly people and people who like hot springs are extremely happy with this.
Our restrooms are spacious enough to enable use by wheelchair users. In particular, because our 1st-floor restrooms are often used by elderly people and physically disabled people, they are the most spacious ones we have. Equipment for ostomates is also available.
The ward's first welfare-type family baths
Our welfare-type family baths are the first of their kind in Sumida. They are designed for use by people in need of support and people who have disability certificates as well as their families and caregivers, and the baths can be reserved for 90 minutes for a fee of 1500 yen. (If the caregiver also plans to take a bath, they must pay the fee as well.)
The bathroom includes two bathtubs so that customers can bathe with their caregivers. The front bathtub also has a swivel chair, which is intended to make it easy for even physically disabled people to get in the tub. I saw something similar at some hot springs in Gamagori and was so impressed that I placed a custom order to have one made for us.
In addition, the dressing rooms have their own nursing bed and restroom. There are also restrooms right next to our dressing rooms, but we installed restrooms inside as well because it seemed like it would be difficult for physically disabled people to go in and out of the dressing rooms just to use restrooms. These restrooms are not at all hospital-like and are designed to enable family members and people who provide assistance to enjoy our public baths as well. However, due to the Entertainment Establishments Control Law, companions of different genders cannot use our facilities unless one of them has a disability certificate, so the facilities aren't as easy to use as we would like. I would like to find a way to improve this so that more people can use our baths.
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