LIFE IN THE Japanese village of Sawatari revolves around its hot springs to a large extent. The restorative waters are channelled into the municipal bathhouse and are even used in treatments at the local hospital. People have been travelling here to take the waters since the early 17th century. Equally long-established is the Maruhon Ryokan, a hotel comprising several sections from different centuries.
The latest addition is a bathhouse by architect Kubo Tsushima. The interior is split over two floors that are separated and woven together by a curved surface made from glulam beams clad in Japanese red cedar. The curling wall is located so that light reaches from the single rooflight down to the two levels. Integrated into the wall is a bench made from cypress, a wood that the architect chose for its wonderful scent. On the lower level, water is piped straight from a hot spring down into the small pool. Here again the dominant material is Japanese red cedar, and the owners encourage visitors to walk barefoot on the silky smooth boards.«