Hey, we all know it! Winter is coming… But instead of freezing in the cold weather, how would you like to relax in hot water, surrounded by the beautiful nature of one of the most fascinating countries in the world? Japan is famous for its hot springs and they attract visitors from all over the world to bath in them. However, before going there, one should familiarize themselves with the secrets of the Japanese bathing culture.
The Japanese hot springs can be found everywhere around the country. Some are in the heart of the big cities, while some are in the mountains and require a long hike to access. One thing that connects them all, is that visitors are sure to relax and leave the worries behind while dipping into the nearly boiling hot water of the onsen.
Visiting an onsen usually includes spending a night at a Japanese inn, ryokan. That together with the bath and a Japanese-style dinner enables a proper Japanese experience.
Tourists often feel uncomfortable with bathing naked around strangers, but for the Japanese it is natural, and one should not enter a hot spring with a swimming suit. Most hot springs have separate baths for men and women, the mixed ones being a minority. It is also good to note that tattoos are often not allowed.
The visit starts in a dressing room, where the visitors leave their clothes in a basket and valuables in a locker. Bathing area is entered with nothing but a small towel. It is important to rinse yourself before bathing. The onsen is not used for washing, the body should be clean when entering the spring and soap or shampoo are not allowed. Usually people go from the bath to shower themselves, but when leaving the onsen for the last time, you should not wash your skin in order to let the healthy minerals soak in.
Osaka prefecture is also filled with many places where you can visit different hot springs. Some worth mentioning include Kinosaki hot spring town, which is a town designed specifically for the visitors to enjoy the onsen at the fullest. Also Spa World is worth mentioning and it’s filled with different types of pools and onsen in the city of Osaka. Kyoto has some good onsen as well, which can be easily combined in a day trip when visiting the beautiful city. Worth a visit is also the Jikogudani Monkey Park in Yamanouchi. The Japanese Macaques run around free and bath in large groups. The tourists tend to watch the monkeys rather than join them for a bath in the hot springs.