If Babylon Bangkok is the ultimate men's club in Asia, Hokuoukan runs a close second. This popular sauna welcomes well-behaved non-Japanese and the crowd, mostly men in their 30s and 40s, is friendly indeed.
i didnt have a hard time finding this place. the directions from utopia are good. yes, it is quite a big place, 4 levels, i believe, but it doesnt look big because of the way they partitioned the place.
the wet floors, i believe, is a typical japanese bath house (the legit type). the hot pools surrounded by 'shower stations' with individual mirrors and no enclosures. the wet and mist sauna (yup, mist sauna, hot mist blown into the sauna area. felt like being in a light drizzle in a very hot place)
then it becomes more like a typical bath house: the video area, the maze lined with cubicles. but one major difference: there are big rooms with dormitory-type beds. turns out that this place could really be a hotel where you can spend overnight in.
i was there on a weekday, around 6pm, hoping to catch the after office crowd. but when i got there, a handful of daddy-type locals were around - 30's to 40's, big-bellied types. sigh. then eventually i noticed some foreigners around.
i only stayed for two hours. had to go back to have dinner with my host. i ended up playing around with the foreigners: singapore, brazil, peru. i would have wanted a local but i guess that wasnt the place.
i was told that the sauna 24 in tokyo is way hotter. that's for another trip.