Kyoto is one of the ancient capitals of Japan and has for many hundreds of years been a centre of sophistication and culture. With that came a strong awareness of hygiene. History first mentions the existence of a bath house in the region as early as 1266. This was a simple, mixed gender affair.
During the Edo-period (1603-1867) the public bath house developed into the present day sentō (銭湯). In Kyoto a few of the bath houses that opened their doors at the end of the Edo-period or just thereafter are still flourishing today. Perhaps one of the most well known is Funaoka Onsen, that even earned itself a place in the Lonely Planet.
In Kyoto the bath house culture is still very much alive, and there are many sentō to be explored.