Jo Nagasaka’s Koganeyu Brings a 21st Century Update to the Japanese Bathhouse

jo nagasaka koganeyu sixtysix magazine

“Koganeyu boldly decided to renovate the existing bathhouse and ventured into a new era, and we were commissioned to undertake the renovation," says Jo Nagasaka. Photo courtesy of Schemata Architects


January 4, 2021

In a time when public bathing is rapidly diminishing in popularity, designer Jo Nagasaka took on the task of modernizing a local sento, or Japanese bathhouse, called Koganeyu.

Jo’s imaginative work engages tradition and contemporary style in one space. To bring modern appeal and maintain Koganeyu’s focus on community and togetherness, Jo introduced an updated color scheme symbolizing the human body, incorporated a mural by local artist Yoriko Hoshi and curtains designed by Ichiro Tanaka, and added new gathering spaces like a beer bar and sauna.

All the while the size of the bathing areas remains the same, with classic bathhouse elements like the dividing wall that separates the sexes serving as grounding reference points in the design.

Jo founded Tokyo-based Schemata Architects straight out of school in 1998 and has created everything from large-scale installations to commissioned projects with clients like Blue Bottle, HAY, New Balance, and more.

jo nagasaka koganeyu sixtysix magazine

Jo Nagasaka has designed everything from large-scale installations to smaller commissioned projects. Photo by Yuriko Takagi

A version of this article originally appeared in Sixtysix Issue 05 with the headline “Jo Nagasaka: Architect, Tokyo, Japan.” Subscribe today.