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Sento, a Place that Forgives Weaknesses: How One Person Threw Away an “Ideal Career” in Order to Find Her Own Path

Honami Enya has visited over 200 sento (communal baths) across Japan. Under the eccentric title of “banto (clerk)/illustrator,” her illustrations of sento have garnered significant attention on Twitter, and she has appeared on Jounetsu Tairiku (TBS) and Jinsei Design (NHK E Tere).

After studying architecture at Waseda University’s School of Creative Science and Engineering, Enya started working at a design office and launched her activities as a sento illustrator with “Sento Illustrations,” a project she started in order to communicate to friends the allures of sento. Published in February 2019 by Chuokoron-Shinsha, Sento Zukai (Sento Illustrations) is a collection of steamy sento illustrations and the culmination of an unprecedented experiment, comprised of onsite surveys, photography, interviews, and illustrations of sento interiors that utilize isometric architectural projections.

Sento illustrator Enya currently works at Kosugiyu sento in Koenji, Tokyo. Join us as we trace her story and learn how she committed her youth to drawing and architecture on a quest to find a place of belonging.

#1 Sento Illustrations: A Project Brought to Life by Days of Melancholy

#2 Days Soaked in Beloved Architecture, and the Curse of “Needing to Become an Architect”

#3 The Conflict Between “What I Want to Be” and “How I Want to Be,” and Arriving at One’s Path


Honami Enya
Born in Tokyo in 1990, Enya works as an illustrator and clerk at Kosugiyu sento in Koenji. She is the organizer of a sento revitalization project. After completing her master’s at Waseda University’s Department of Architecture and Architectural Engineering, she started working at a renowned design office, but was forced to take a leave of absence due to health issues caused by work habits. It was during this leave of absence that she experienced a fateful encounter with sento, which inspired her to draw overhead views of sento interiors that she released on social media. After garnering attention, these illustrations were released as a book published by Chuokoron-Shinsha in February 2019, titled Sento Zukai (Sento Illustrations). She has made many media appearances, including on the television programs Jounetsu Tairiku (TBS) and Jinsei Design (NHK E Tere). Her work is currently serialized in the magazines Tabi no Techo and Hyakunen Sento. Her preferred water bath temperature is 16 degrees.

Interviewer and Writer: Yuta Hagiwara
Yuta Hagiwara was born in 1983. He is a producer, playwright, writer, and leader of Kamome Machine. He began his theatrical activities as a student at Waseda University. He has won several awards, including the 13th AAF Drama Award from the Aichi Arts Revitalization Initiative, the 2016 Toga Theatre Contest top producer award, and the top award at the Asakusa Kid Hongyo Reading Impressions Contest. He has appeared in Kamome Machine works as well as plays by Natsuko Tezuka. http://www.kamomemachine.com/

Photography: Hajime Kato

Editors: Masaru Yokota, Fumino Uratani (Camp)

Design: Shinpei Nakaya, PRMO

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