October 14, 2015 / 7:09 PM / 3 years ago

Japanese public bathhouse artists keep tradition alive

Residents lounge in a bath in front of a mural of Mount Fuji at a public bath in downtown Tokyo October 5, 2015. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Japanese’s public bathhouses are declining in numbers but a trio of artists, including Mizuki Tanaka, are continuing a profession that began a century ago — painting depictions of Mount Fuji on the walls of the bathhouse or “sento.”

At 32, Tanaka is the youngest and only female painter among the trio. She gains the most satisfaction when she sees people enjoying the massive paintings of Japan’s highest peak in the bathhouses.

The numbers of traditional sento have dropped from about 2,600 in Tokyo alone in the 1960s to 700 today, as more homes have modern bathrooms.

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