Reader Mark tipped me off to this article from the LA Times about the disappearing Chinese sentos. According to the article new development is to blame. The sento featured in the article was the location for the Chinese language film "Shower" which I hadn't heard of before but has an 86% at Rotten Tomatoes.
This is all the more pertinent given that I just found out that Tanabe Onsen (田辺温泉) in Osaka city closed sometime in early 2009. Going through my database to begin uploading my Osaka reviews I came across the 口コミ (word of mouth) page about Tanabe on @nifty.
One commentator saying:
"Yes, It's really closed."
"There was a chain across the entrance"
"I was shocked as I recalled the memories [of Tanabe]"
Previous comments state that the owner had to undergo medical care. That was in 2009 and three years later the onsen has yet to re-open. I hope the owner is healthy. It would be good to see Tanabe reopen as it was a wonderful sento that I have recommended to people before. As the generation that built the current sento infrastructure gets older and their children more and more take up other professions we will only see the number of sento continue to decline.
Here's my original post from Kansai Onsen Review: