Japan is home to many onsen (natural hot springs) including both outdoor and indoor baths. There is no other place like Japan in the world that offers its visitor various types of hot springs. Wherever you go inside Japan, from north to south you would find them. Japan is regarded as a volcanically active country where earthquake often hit the country. It means you encounter abundance of natural hot springs waters that are flowing endlessly.
In Japan, you can experience both public and private onsen baths. However, in most cases, privately owned onsen are run by ryokan, and hotels. If you are going to visit Japan in the future make sure you head to one of the hot spring resort town and find the perfect onsen for your own relaxation and tranquility. Based on the type of minerals that dissolved in the water provide you different heath benefits. To any visitors of Japan, we highly recommend you to stay an overnight at a hot spring ryokan. It will be a great experience and who knows you might be addicted to it.
If you really want to know how to take a bath in an onsen then you have to follow certain etiquette. Please take these seriously and pay your fullest respect to the Japanese culture and tradition. Below are the very important things you must know before heading towards an onsen. Read them carefully and don’t skip a thing there. Good luck.
1) Before you enter the bath area please make sure you are going to enter the correct one as there are separate male and female entrances. The entrance to baths is often marked by curtain with character, “男” blue for men and “女” red for women. Just don’t mess up with this!
2) In the changing room, take off all your clothes including the shoes and put them in a baskets or lockers. If you bring your own soap, shampoo and towel then take them all to the washing area.
2) One of the most important things of all is – washing and cleaning your body carefully before entering the bathtub. You can use lots of soap and clean the body as much as possible sitting on the small stool. Be clean and rinsed.
3) You have to be completely nude, there is no exception! And seriously no one is going to see you as they are all naked too. If you have question like this “Can I go there wearing swimsuit?” the answer is NO. If you still hesitate then prefer to take a bath in a private open air hot spring bathtub.
4) You can use a hand towel for modesty when walking to the main bath area from the washing area. Please don’t forget to wring it outside of the water pool or put it on your head.
5) You should test the water before you get in. And if everything is fine soak your body at once in the bath and have a pleasant relax time there. You are requested not to swim and wash your body inside the bathtub. It is not a swimming pool, meanwhile you are provided a separate area only for washing your body, so use your brain and act wisely.
6) No drunk person is allowed to get in the bathtub. In fact, you should not eat too much before entering the bath. Also smoking inside the bathtub is strictly prohibited.
7) Wipe your body as best as possible after taking the bath then enter to the changing room. Many onsen provide relaxing room to sit on or lay down including massage chairs.
8) Tattoos are not allowed! If you have one then you can take bath in an onsen. Sorry!
9) Most of the onsen don’t allow you taking photograph and video in bath area.
10) The last one that usually happens to most of the newbie is if your towel accidentally falls into bath, immediately wring it outside the bath.
These are the important tips and common onsen etiquette that you have to follow in order to enjoy a great relaxing peaceful bath in the hot springs bath.