You're Sitting in It: Japanese Soaking Tubs

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Image: Bill Timmerman for Luxe

I’ve long been fascinated by the unusual size and shape of the traditional Japanese soaking tub. When recently consulting a friend who had been thinking about adding a hot tub to his back yard, I mentioned that I’d rather have an outdoor soaking tub instead – and my interest resurfaced once again. I went on the hunt for some great examples of Japanese soaking tubs, and thought I’d share the results with you.

Form Follows Function

It is said that this type of tub – much deeper and typically not as long as a traditional Western bathtub, making it easier to sit upright while soaking up to your neck – came about in order to bring the experience of soaking in natural hot springs home. The tubs are traditionally made of (or clad in) wood, often cedar or other aromatic types of wood that provide an olfactory relaxation experience (the example above is teak). Japanese soaking tubs can make a statement in many styles of homes, both indoor and outdoor.

You're Sitting in It- Japanese Soaking Tubs on the Interior CollectiveImage: Dwell

Sunken Soaking

If the idea of having such a tall tub doesn’t sit well, you can always have it installed in an area where it can be partially sunk below floor level. The example above, like many Japanese soaking tubs, is surrounded by an area of stones – adding to the traditional feel and providing drainage for any overflow.

You're Sitting in It- Japanese Soaking Tubs on the Interior CollectiveImage: Architizer

In and Out

While this feels like an outdoor setting, it is a covered deck area, which allows for a sense of being more connected with nature than a completely indoor space. Adding plants helps with that feeling, too.

You're Sitting in It- Japanese Soaking Tubs on the Interior CollectiveImage: Terra Ferma Landscapes

Made of Steel

Wood is not the only material you can use for a Japanese soaking tub. While it’s the most traditional, why not use elements that work with your décor and personality? This outdoor steel tub is very inviting – the kind of thing I might decide to add to my own deck some day.

Do you have a Japanese soaking tub?

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Dave Hime, founder/curator of, has been an interior design addict for as long as he can remember. In 2005, he bought a house-in-progress and missed several opportunities to have an influence on his own home decor–leaving him wanting more. With design heroes such as Blake Dollahite ( and Robert & Cortney Novogratz (, Dave began seeking out online resources that would exemplify the interior design practices he's most drawn to: using color, texture and simple materials well. Bringing all of this together, along with his specific focus on providing interior design inspiration from a man's point of view, is Dave's mission: masculine design.