Swimming in Tokyo [for foreigners with no Japenese]

Of course it`s not straight forward.  They have some rules over here which you might need to know about before you go swimming in public pools and it does not help when everything is in Japanese and you can`t speak the language.  Here are some tips that should hopefully make your trip to the pool as stress free as possible.

  • Like most things in Japan, you work with a ticket machine.  I am guessing most pools use a generic machine like the one below.  Pick the cheapest option which is usually the hourly rate [250 yen button top left].  I also know that the 500 yen button  gives you two hours but you`d be mad to do that.  There is usually a swimming cap machine beside these machines which is pretty straight forward to use.  Take your swimming ticket and put it some where safe.


  • Go to the appropriate dressing room and remember that shoes must come off before going in.  They usually provide plastic bags that are for your shoes but most people I see just carry them in to the locker/dressing rooms.
  • Lockers take a 10 yen coin and are easy to use.
  • No watches allowed in the pools (even waterproof ones).  Possibly anything that can scrape off people and hurt people.  If you wear it in they will make a fuss and take it off you.  So save youself the embarrassment and hassle and just take all accessories off before entering.  Put the locker key band around wrist.
  • Take a shower before entering, pretty obvious.
  • When entering the pool be aware of classes that are happening.  They will usually have cones up and small barriers that are meant to block you or warn you but when you can`t read the signs you tend to just walk past them.   Just be aware of these.  In such cases the pool is divided into sections just like normal pools.
  • This is one thing that definitely confused me for weeks –  every hour [around 5 to the hour for 5 minutes] you need to get out of the pool.  It`s called a ‘kenko kyuukei’ (health rest).  It`s also a toilet break also for the life gaurds.  Personally I think it`s a hassel so aim to hit the pool just after the hour to avoid this.
  • The pool I use employs 5/6 life gaurds.  Quite alot but I think they need to monitor everyone in the pool closely to make sure you are not over doing it or becoming exhausted.  So ignore the stares and just continue as normal as they are just doing their job.
  • Some pools don`t allow people with tattoos to use the pool.  So check before entering.
  • When exiting show your swimming ticket to the person sitting at the counter.  If it`s under an hour you are fine.  If it`s over I guess you pay the 2 hour fee.

If you have no idea where the public pools are ask in your ward office.  They will usually give you an erormous map with everything on it.  If you live anywhere near Koenji I recommend the one I go to.  Simply get the Maranouchi Line to Higashi Koenji and it`s literally just across the road and it`s part of a school but open to the public. 

Remember “Swimming pool doko deska?” – Where is the swimming pool?!


~ by redegg on August 22, 2009.

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