Enjoying hot springs in Japan
Going to a hot spring is one of the oldest and most popular traditions in Japan. The country is a very volcanically active one, laying between tectonic plates, and while this means that it is very prone to earthquakes, it also means that there is no shortage of hot springs. Every region in Japan has their share of hot springs, or onsen in Japanese, and even hot spring resorts – towns full of tourists where the main attraction are these onsen. These have been popular since hundreds of years ago.
In Japan, many people claim that taking a bath in a hot spring has big health benefits, especially for your skin. There are various health benefits that different hot springs provide, depending on the minerals that can be found in the water.
There are different ways to enjoy an onsen, too. Some of them are public and can be enjoyed by anyone. You’ll see up to dozens of people here sometimes. They are separated by gender and people with tattoos are most often not allowed in (they have a bad rep due to their association with the Japanese mafia), though some places are slowly reconsidering this policy. Just remember to take a shower before you go into the water, and don’t bring any belongings with you once you go in. You must be completely naked.
If you prefer, you can get a private hot spring in your hotel room. You can often find these in a ryokan, Japanese-style hotels. You can enjoy a hot bath with your significant other here. Also, be careful not to confuse onsen and sento. A sento is simply a bath house, and the water is not from a naturally occurring hot spring.
Both private and public hot springs can be either indoors or outdoors. Outdoor hot springs in snowy places can be particularly pleasant, due to the contrast between the water and outside temperature.
There are some other traditions related to onsen, such as onsen tamago, or hot spring eggs. These are eggs boiled with hot spring water, and their shells acquire a black color. You can add some salt to them.
If you visit Japan, going to a hot spring at least once is a must, so do some research and don’t miss the experience.
Hi, I’m Sergio.
I’m from Spain, lived in the UK for seven years and came to Japan in 2012.
I majored in journalism in London and have been teaching English in Tokyo.
I like traveling, cycling, photography, movies, and spending time with friends.
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