The Kabuki Springs & Spa is located in the heart of Japantown in San Francisco, in close walking distance to some fine sushi restaurants and noodle bars. I didn’t venture to Japantown to eat though, I went to try a service at an “authentic” Pan-Asian spa. What that means is that it’s not specific to one country or culture in Asia, it just has all the fundamentals of a decent spa in Asia: communal baths that are preceded by a sit-down shower, and perhaps some deep soaking tubs made from wood.
In the great tradition of Japanese public baths, Kabuki’s communal bath is designed to encourage harmony and relaxation. Facilities include a hot pool, cold plunge, dry sauna, and steam room. Individual bathing areas include traditional Japanese-seated bathing areas and standing western-style showers. Spa-goers are welcome to enjoy complimentary bath products, sea salts, chilled face cloths, and teas. The communal baths include a full-time bathing attendant.
Unfortunately for me, the only service appointment I could get that fit my schedule was on the men’s day for the baths, which meant that I couldn’t go in. Women can use the communal baths (bathing suit optional) on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Men’s bathing suit optional days are Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Tuesday is the one coed day, where everyone’s gotta suit up. Another female spa-goer who was waiting for her massage at the same time as me said she had used the communal baths before and they were really nice. She liked going to them.
So the only public facilities I experienced were the women’s restroom and the bath inside my treatment room. The restroom smelled like all the airplane bathrooms I’ve ever been in. It did not smell good at all, and I actually thought that someone had urinated on the floor. I told the front desk guy about it, and he sent someone to look into it but it didn’t make any difference.
The cost for using the communal baths is $25 every day. To use the baths with a treatment is $15. You must also make a reservation if you just want to use the baths and not get a treatment. So be sure to plan ahead and make your reservation! I should mention that this is something I really like about the Kabuki Springs: the spa welcomes people of all gender identities, of all abilities, and of all body shapes and sizes. Transgender and gender-nonconforming people are welcome to attend the communal bathing days that are consistent with their gender identity. So it doesn’t matter what you look like or identify as, just as long as you keep your trap shut and respect everyone’s peaceful quiet time, you are welcome.
Massage and Body Treatments
There are two types of massages offered at Kabuki: Eastern and Western. The Eastern massage includes Shiatsu, a traditional Japanese style massage literally meaning “finger pressure”. It is an ancient form of massage performed to release energy blockages, and traditionally it’s a dry massage that doesn’t use oil.
I got the Bliss Massage with Private Bath (80-minutes, $135 weekdays). This fell under the “Western Massage” category. I started by relaxing in a traditional deep Japanese furo tub with Kabuki’s signature Matcha bath blend, a mixture of pure green tea and salt. I wasn’t feeling well at all that day due to food poisoning from the night before and I went in feeling rough. The private bath started with a bath attendant scrubbing my back and rinsing me off with warm water. It was a new experience for me and it somehow felt very much like a mother-child experience. The bath ended up being very soothing for me. After 20 minutes or so, it was time to rinse off and prepare to get onto the table. I have to say I really liked my private bath, as that is what I was more in the mood for (vs. the communal baths) on that day.
The private bath was followed by a 50-minute full session Eastern massage. The acupressure massage she gave was nicely targeted to my sore points, which the therapist seemed to find easily. While the whole massage was very pleasant, it was also therapeutic. On one hand this was great for my sore muscles. On the other hand, because I had food poisoning, it was like a little detox — which made me feel better at first but then rough when I got back to my hotel room. Overall though I think it helped me get rid it a little quicker, which I guess is a good thing.
Everyone at Kabuki was very friendly and polite, in that modern hipster San Francisco way.
If you’re looking for something a little different and cultural to do in San Francisco, the Kabuki is definitely worth a try. You just need to plan accordingly if you want to use the communal baths on the day of your visit.
- hot pool
- cold plunge
- dry sauna
- steam room
- individual bathing areas
- private baths
$$$$ = Pricey
The Kabuki Springs & Spa is located in the Kinokuniya Building directly behind the Sundance Kabuki 8 Theater (corner of Geary Boulevard and Fillmore Street) in Japantown in San Francisco.
1750 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94115
HOURS OF OPERATION
Spa Hours are 10:00 am – 10:00 pm daily.
Last appointments and entry into the communal bathing area is at 9:00 pm.
Communal bathing area begins closing at 9:45 pm.
HOW TO BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
Call the spa’s reservations center at 415-922-6001 from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm (Pacific Time) any day of the week to book your appointment.