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If you’re a bath person, there’s simply no better way to float away the day’s troubles than in a nice, hot, relaxing vat of water. Unless, of course, you could be in a deeper and more immersive vat of water. Well, folks, turns out you can be. Meet: the ”ofuro,” aka the Japanese soaking tub, which is basically a tiny indoor hot tub that you can luxuriate in every day. Ahhhh.

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Design: Elizabeth Bomberger; Photo: Regan Wood; Courtesy of Homepolish

FIRST, SOME HISTORY

Deep-walled soaking tubs have been an important part of Japanese culture for many centuries. (Immersive bathing is a key component of Buddhist cleansing rituals.) Traditionally made with native hinoki wood, they’re a bathroom fixture in apartments, homes and ryokans (spas) across the country. The idea? Replicate the experience of sitting in a natural hot spring (which there are apparently loads of in the Japanese countryside) and reap the same therapeutic benefits in your home.

Image: Design: Elizabeth Bomberger; Photo: Regan Wood; Courtesy of Homepolish

THREE CHEERS FOR SMALL FOOTPRINTS

One of the biggest benefits to the ofuro is that it has a considerably smaller footprint than your standard soaker tub, which allows for a more flexible floor plan. (This is a natural evolution, as Japanese bathrooms tend to be much smaller than American ones.) In Japan, the ritual of bathing traditionally entails a wash in the shower first and then warm and relax in the tub afterward, which is in part why many modern Western adaptations feature a shower stall alongside the tub.

Image: Design: 25:40 Love & Co.; Photo: Alyssa Rosenheck

A CHIC STATEMENT PIECE

To note, the tubs featured here are not authentic ofuros; rather ofuro-inspired. While yes, space-efficient, they also cut an incredibly beautiful silhouette, adding interest and design cred to your bathroom. We love that they offer a way to get the luxurious look of a freestanding soaker tub on limited square footage, with the added benefit of super-duper self-care.

Image: Design: Carly Callahan; Photo: Dustin Halleck; Courtesy of Homepolish

WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT THEM NOW?

For the past few years, ofruros have had a major renaissance due to their unique cocktail of spa therapy vibes (hello, self-care movement) and space-savviness. What do you think—would you consider a Japanese soaking tub? Below, a sampling of prices and styles.

Image: Design: Laurel Powell; Photo: Alyssa Rosenheck

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