ofuro: Japanese soaking tubs
pictured above: a beautiful custom wooden ofuro designed & built by Bartok Design
A few years ago, I remodeled my bathroom, and removed a traditional shower/tub combo. In replacing it with a tiled shower stall and a tub, I faced a dilemma: how to fit these two new items in the same space? Luckily, my solution was Kohler's Greek Soaking Tub, substantially deeper, wider and shorter than their traditional tubs. However, I originally investigated building a custom Japanese soaking tub - or ofuro - before discarding that idea in favor of my lower-cost Kohler alternative.
My father is facing a similar project: he wants to turn the upstairs in his 1917 Craftsman home into a small apartment, with the 1/2 bath currently there becoming a full, albeit tiny, bathroom. Being that the entire upstairs of his house is finished in rich rough wood - mostly raw redwood planks and other woods - he wants the bath to be similarly subtle and consistent, so I recommended an ofuro.
One of the best resources on the subject is Bruce Smith & Yoshiko Yamamoto's Japanese Baths book - lots of eyecandy and ideas in it. But here are some other resources that may be useful.
- Hydro Systems' 4040 round/square soaking tub
- Neo-Metro's luxury baths
- THG's Yoko
- Neptune makes some larger whirlpools in a vaguely Japanese style
- MTI has a huge line of luxury baths, including several space-saving corner models and a few deep soakers
- online retailer Signature Hardware has a nice consolidated listing for several different makers of unorthodox bath & soaking tubs
- I saw a Cabuchon tub recently installed in Portland, Oregon; it looked great but I couldn't exactly strip down and take a bath at the cocktail party where I saw it
- Bathpro's Yubune are short and deep
- TeakTubs look gorgeous but I'm not sure how safe they'd be on a second story, but as long as they're sealed well, I know teak shouldn't split or swell, so maybe they're fine
- Robert's Hot Tubs makes some really nice tubs, several of which are bathroom-sized
- Bartok Design's custom Japanese tubs are beautiful and minimalist
- Driftwood Design also makes custom wooden baths
- master carpenter Hiroshi Sakaguchi also makes custom tubs, all of which are absolutely gorgeous
- of course, if the floor is strong enough, you can always frame & pour your own concrete tub to fit any possible shape or space
- for less than $900, you can have a portable ofuro that will fit in a large shower stall or which can be placed above a drain on a tiled floor - something you can take with you, and one of the simplest solutions to this sort of problem. No reason you can't use a flexible filler, with a hook on the wall above it to turn it into a shower!