Onsen – the Japanese hot springs
- Jun 26, 2015
- by Alina
Hot springs are geothermal heated waters. As a volcanically active country, Japan has over 2,500 hot springs, most of them located in natural settings such as in the mountains, along the seashore or in small valleys.
Different onsen have different waters with different mineral compositions, all with the purpose of providing a relaxing effect on your body and mind. The mineral content in the water is believed to have healing powers and Japanese people believe that a good soak in a proper onsen heals aches, pains and diseases.
A particular onsen may feature several different baths, each with a different mineral composition. The water temperatures also vary widely, from nearly 100ºC to as cool as 20ºC.
Onsen are ideal for those who wish to get away from the hectic life of the city to relax their minds and bodies.
Some onsen are located in small towns, their open-air baths guaranteeing a fantastic scenery and a taste of the culture and rural atmosphere of Japan. Restaurants, museums and other tourist attractions are often found in the towns.
Almost every ryokan (Japanese Inn) features private guest rooms with onsen attached, so an overnight stay is highly recommended as it will be a unique cultural experience and perhaps the best you will have in Japan.
Things you should know before entering a hot bath:
・Onsen are gender separated. The entrance to baths are often marked by red curtains for female and blue curtains for males, so confirm the right one before entering.
・Since all onsen are nude only, remove your clothes before entering the bath. Store your clothes in baskets or provided lockers and bring only a small towel into the bath room.
・Wash yourself before entering the bath, rinsing off the soap completely.
・You may put the small towel over your head while relaxing in the bath or place it on the side of the bath. You shouldn’t enter the onsen water with the towel.
The most important thing you should know is that baths are for soaking only, not cleaning. Once you’re cleaned and rinsed, get in and relax (but make sure to test the water before entering as it can be pretty hot).
Japan is home to some of the best natural hot springs in the world and every region has a wide variety of onsen resorts. They are definitely a part of any traveler’s trip that should not be missed.
Do not leave Japan without experimenting the pure relation of the Japanese hot springs!
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