ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Japanese Onsens: Strip Down and Hop In!

Updated on June 25, 2020
Outdoor Onsen
Outdoor Onsen

When thinking about Japan, there are many things that come to mind. Sushi, ramen, anime, technology, and giant robots are some of the top few. These are the things we know and constantly see from different media outlets. And while these things are all amazing and are definitely important to Japan and Japanese culture there is one part of Japan that gets widely overlooked: onsens.

The History of Japanese Onsens

Onsens are famous Japanese hot springs that can both be enjoyed both indoors and outdoors regardless of the season. As Japan is volcanically active, there are many hot springs throughout the country that. These onsens are a very important part of Japanese history and culture.

For more than a thousand years, onsens have been used as a way to relax and cleanse oneself in a communal bathing spot. People would often gather and bathe in these natural springs with friends, families, and even strangers. And while most of these onsens were originally located outside, many bathing houses were created around these springs and you can now find many onsens both indoors and outdoors.

Bathing with your Family

In the past it was very common for families to bathe together in these springs, and for that reason the majority of onsens were mixed gender bathing. Today, however, you will have a harder time finding mixed bathing onsens, as most onsens today are gender separated; meaning women will go into one bathing area and men will go into a separate area. For families who still wish to bathe together or for people who wish to bathe alone there are options of private onsens that you can reserve.


*It should also be noted that children under the age of 12 are allowed to go into either bathing rooms as long as they are accompanied by an adult of that gender; so it would not be surprising to see a young girl bathing with her father or a young boy bathing with his mother. Bathing with one’s family is still an important tradition in Japanese households, even if there aren’t as many traditional mixed onsens left.

Indoor Onsen
Indoor Onsen

Healing Properties of Onsens

It is also commonly believed that these hot springs have many different healing properties within them, depending on the different types of minerals found in the water. Below are just a few of the different healing properties within the waters and the effects that they can have on your body:

● Sulphur springs can help ease joint pain and dermatitis

● Salt springs can ease lower back pain and increase blood circulation as well as help heal ulcers

● Aluminum springs can tighten your skin and heal hives

● Green tea infused onsens relax your body and relieve stress*

● Wine infused onsens are a rejuvenating treatment for the body*


*While it is believed by many people that coffee, green tea, and wine have a special healing or rejuvenating property, there isn't enough scientific research to back such claims. Should you still wish to enjoy one of these unique baths, there are offering many Onsens available that offer such bathing experiences.

Rules of Onsens!

  1. More often than not, tattoos are not allowed in an onsen.*
  2. Unless otherwise stated: Swim suits, underwear, or clothes are not allowed in the water.
  3. Take a shower and clean yourself before entering the water.
  4. Do not stand while taking a shower, this is deemed rude and inconsiderate to those around you as you may accidentally splash them
  5. Rinse off all soap and shampoo before going into the bath.
  6. No swimming or jumping in the onsen.
  7. You will be provided a small towel, this is not to cover yourself but to place on your head.
  8. Do not let your hair touch the water. If your have long hair is long, be sure to tie it up.
  9. Be quiet and courteous to the other people using the bath


*While it is true that many onsens today still do not allow people with tattoos; there are more bathing houses that are abolishing this rule so as to prepare for the influx of foreigners during the olympics. If you do have a tattoo, please research the area you are going to, so as to make sure that you will be allowed.

The Cultural Divide

While these hot springs are loved by all the locals, there are very few foreigners that take the plunge to experience the hot waters of Japan: the reason being? Nearly all onsens forbid any type of clothing when entering the water. This fact is the number one reason why western foreigners are unwilling to experience a Japanese onsen.

From young ages, the Japanese people have bathed with their families and enjoyed public onsens together; and while body consciousness is still prevalent in Japanese culture, the human body has not been as sexualized in this culture as it is in the west. On the contrary, in the west we are taught from a young age to hide our bodies from others; that our bodies were treasures we should not share with anyone. Even as adults we still feel anxious and scared when sharing our bodies with others.

Being completely naked should not be as scary as we make it out to be. Being naked should not be as sexual as we make it out to be either; however we are so afraid of others seeing us naked and judging us we miss out on opportunities and experiences that could possibly change our ways of living. While our way of life would not change overnight from stripping down naked and taking a bath with complete strangers, I can assure you it will begin to slowly change; until you become more comfortable with not only nudity, but with yourself as well.

These baths not only heal your body and its ailments, but they also have the ability to heal the way you feel about yourself. Every time you hop into an onsen, you will feel a little less self-conscious then the first time; and as you continue to hop in you will become more and more comfortable in your own skin.

Deciding to Hop in!

After you decide to hop in, there are still a few things that you need to keep in mind. When deciding which onsen you should go to, please keep in mind the differences of not only outdoor and indoor baths, but the minerals within the water. If you are still nervous and hesitant, it may be better to experience a smaller, gender separated onsen before jumping head first into a large mixed onsen.

However, regardless of the type of onsen you choose, please remember to follow the rules of the onsen and most importantly: Relax and enjoy.

© 2020 Kelly Lake

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Melissa Rayz profile image

      Melissa Rayz 

      13 months ago

      Interesting! Didn't realize that there were still hot springs that allowed both genders!

    • profile image

      Michael Douglass 

      13 months ago

      Love onsen! Can't wait to jump in the next one :)

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://corp.maven.io/privacy-policy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)