Let’s take “Onsen”! ~How to enjoy it and its manners~

日本人の生活(せいかつ):Life of Japanese

Japanese article is here; https://japaneselanguagesalonbymikapanda.com/lets-try-onsen-852

Japan is the best country of “Onsen” in the world

Hello, this is MIKA!

Have you ever taken Japanese “Onsen”? If not, do you want to try?

“Onsen” is a mineral water which is heated by the energy of the inside of the Earth.

There has been the habit to take “Onsen” in Japan for over 1000 years;

According to the data in 2021, there are 2,971 “Onsen” areas which has hotels, and there are 27,969 spring sources in Japan.

In the other words, Japan is the country which has the most numbers of “Onsen” areas and spring sources!

And “Onsen” has the effects not only to make us relaxed but also to heal our wounds and diseases, that’s why I recommend you to try.

However, Japanese “Onsen” culture is unique enough to confuse many foreigners…

So, read this article to prepare before going Japan!

The kinds of “Onsen” facilities

The facilities in “Onsen” areas

In Japan, we have so many “Onsen” areas like “Hakone” in Kanagawa prececture, “Kusatsu” in Gumma prefecture, “Arima” in Hyogo prefecture, “Gero” in Gifu prefecture, “Beppu” in Ooita prefecture and so on; and they have a lot of “Onsen” facilities.

Also, a hot spring wells up in the other places; that’s why there are some “Onsen” facilities in the center of Tokyo even though it’s not “Onsen” area.

In addition, there are large “Onsen” facilities in the cities which bring hot spring in “Onsen” area by a tank lorry everyday!

“Onsen-ryokan”, Japanese hotel which has “Onsen”

And there are Japanese style hotels called “Onsen-ryokan” in “Onsen” area. We call a travel to stay “Onsen-ryokan” as “Onsen-ryokou”, ryokou means a travel.

Some “Onsen-ryokan” has “Roten-buro”, outside onsen for each rooms and they are very popular.

The staff of “Onsen-ryokan” brings a cuisine to guest’s room, that’s why guests can fully enjoy their private time.

Also guests can use the place of amusements like a ping-pong and karaoke.

“Sentou” isn’t “Onsen”!!

By the way, we have some public bath facilities called “Sentou”, but it’s not “Onsen” because it makes bath with hot tap water.

The kinds of “Onsen” style

Inside onsen

First, you can find an inside onsen entering a bath area. There are not only a normal bath but also some special baths which have bubbles and voltage to improve blood circulation.

If you like a sauna, go to the facility with it!

“Roten-buro”, Outside onsen

“Roten-buro” means an outside onsen.

We can see only the sky at some “Roten-buro”, but at others we can see the view of outside with mountains, the sea, and the view of four seasons.

“Ashi-yu”, the onsen to put just foots

“Ashi-yu” is the style of onsen to put just foots literally; “Ashi” means a foot and “Yu” means onsen. Generally we can find “Ashi-yu” in Onsen areas, facilities and “Onsen-ryokan”, however, there are 3 airports which have “Ashi-yu” in Kyusyu!

Try it when you visit Kagoshima-airport in Kagoshima prefecture, Ooita-airport in Ooita prefecture or Kita-kyuusyuu-airport in Fukuoka prefecture.

Manners of “Onsen”

Before taking onsen

There are two parts of bath area for men and wemen like a toilett.

There is the sign like “男(おとこ)”,”男湯(おとこゆ)” or “殿方(とのがた)” at the entrance of the area for men.

And there is the sign like “女(おんな)”,”女湯(おんなゆ)” or “婦人(ふじん)” at the entrance of the area for wemen.

Next, dressing room has a locker or baskets to put clothes.

After taking off your clothes, fold them careful and put them into baskets.

And do not take a swimming wear because we take onsen nakedly!

Also never take photos in dressing room and bath area!!

In a bath area, wash your hairs and body definitely before taking onsen.

After washing, clean a chair and a bucket at first and put them back to their original place. Never leave your hairs on a chair and in washing area.

While you take onsen

Before entering to onsen, put some hot water on your body by a pail or a bucket. This is the manner called “Kake-yu” to flush your sweat.

There are some pails and buckets like these, find them.

After “Kake-yu”, put a pail or a bucket to its original place.

Next, do not put towel into onsen.

If you have long hairs, loop up your hairs not to put them into onsen.

And do not talk loudly because onsen is the place to stay quietly.

Also do not dive and swim because onsen is not a swimming pool.

Running is annoying for others too, and it’s very dangerous because it’s easy enough to fall.

It’s also taboo to wash your head and body in onsen and wash your clothes in a bath area.

When you stay in onsen, not to monopolize it for others.

When you go back to a dressing room, wipe your body with a towel.

Because if you don’t do it, you wet a floor in a dressing room.

After taking onsen

After taking onsen, especially wemen use a dryer; when you finish drying, take your hairs on a chair or a wash stand to throw them away to a trash box defenitely!

You feel uncomfortable if there are someone’s hairs when you use a dryer, don’t you?

So, not to make someone uncomfortable, please clean up the area after drying.

Others:something to do and not to do

First, never take onsen after drinking!

Because hot water let you become tipsy and also taxes your heart.

Drinking insure you easily, it’s so risky. If you want to drink, do it after taking onsen.

Also, take something sweet to raise your blood-suger level before taking onsen, it’s helpful to prevent a dizziness just after taking a bath.

That’s why there are some “Onsen-manju”, kind of Japanese sweets on the table in the room of “Onsen-ryokan”. How thoughtful it is!

In addition, if you take a green tea with “Onsen-manju”, it’s promising to have a skin beautification effect.

Because the absorptivity of catechin, one of nutrients of a green tea, raises if you take a green tea before taking onsen.

About a tattoo

Anyway, do you have a tattoo?

Unfortunately, there are some facilities which you can’t enter with tattoo.

The reason why is tatoo has the strong image that “You belong to a criminal group” in Japan.

However, recently we can find some facilities which can enter with tattoo, so search before going.

Final comment

How about it?

You think it’s too strict to take onsen with many manners, don’t you?

That is certainly true, because it’s troublesome if we have too much rules.

But it’s a rare experience which is possible only in Japan, so I want you to try if you’re interested in onsen.

Onsen facilities, especially for “Onsen ryokan” is the place for healing. And also it’s the very Japanese place you can feel many “Omotenashi”.

I think it becomes a nice memory to boast in your country!

About my class of Japanese language

And if you’re interested in my class of Japanese language, please check this article; https://japaneselanguagesalonbymikapanda.com/mika-panda-online-school