What does Japanese culture remind you of? You may answer Manga or Anime, Japanese food, Geisha, Shrines, and Temples, etc. Of course, They’re so popular and fascinating, however, please bear in mind that Japan has other wonderful places to visit. And they are called ‘ONSENs’.
ONSENs (Hot Spring) are also one of the best things about a trip to Japan. When you come to Japan, Onsens are one of the must-visit destinations.
Onsen Meaning in English
Regardless whether you have visited Japan before or not, few people could answer this question. This article will offer you one short answer to the question.
Why are there a lot of Onsens in Japan?
Have you ever heard of that Japan has quite amounts of earthquakes and volcanos?
As you know, the Japan archipelago is surrounded by Oceans. It lies on the Pacific Rim Earthquake Zone that often causes earthquakes, which make Japan the country in rich earthquakes. Besides, it has lots of active or inactive volcanos. Mt. Fuji is renowned for the highest mountain and one of the active volcanos in Japan.
However, these things don’t mean that Japan is a dangerous country to visit and you should avoid traveling to Japan. On the contrary, these natural factors are one of the very reasons that Japan has uncountable Onsens.
How are Onsens generated? -basic acknowledgments-
For centuries, Japanese people have harnessed rich resources from nature as mentioned above. One such resources are Onsens. There are two types of the way to be generated: these types depend on that a heat source is related to volcanos or not.
Volcanic hot springs
In the volcanic area, there is magma that rose from the depth of the earth at a few to 10 miles underground. The magma makes some rainwater and melted snow penetrating the underground hotter.
This water contains many kinds of minerals and springs up to the ground through faults. If the faults don’t pass to the ground, people dig and pump up the water.
Non-volcanic hot springs
Not all Onsens are related to volcanoes.
Generally, as you dig into the underground deeper, ground temperature becomes hotter. According to this method, people dig into the deep underground and discover hot water.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can find hot springs everywhere. There must have a lot of groundwater underground.
How to take a hot spring bath
At first, I appreciate that you have read this article so far. This section offers you more practical information about how to correctly go into a hot spring bath.
Most communal baths, especially in one-day baths, NO swimsuits are allowed. Probably you feel embarrassed to be naked and hesitate. Of course, that’s natural you feel so because the Japanese way of taking a bath is different from other countries’ ones.
However, just bear in mind that “It’s the same as typical Japanese people who first try Onsen”. Almost all children face a big hurdle to be naked in public areas.
When I first went to Onsen, I didn’t want to put off clothing, but I soon got used to doing that. So, you don’t have to think seriously.
Before taking a hot spring bath, you should pay attention to the things below.
No tattoos are allowed as a general rule in Japanese Onsen
Unfortunately, most typical Onsen ban people who have tattoos on bodies because some people may get scared to find them.
In my opinion, it can be said that this rule comes from the cultural deference about tattoos. In Japan, unlike other countries, tattoos are often seen on bodies of Japanese traditional gangsters or anti-social forces. That’s why Japanese people have a negative impression of tattoos.
You should make sure the place where you want to visit allows tattoos in advance. These days, there is an increasing number of facilities which allow tattoos.
Avoid bathing right after eating and drinking alcohol. (For a few hours)
No matter you are healthy or not, you should stop doing that because alcohol may cause high blood pressure, dehydration, and some unintended injuries.
There is no rush: beer and wine can’t go away. Nothing could be better than a beer after Onsen.
Onsen etiquette in Japan
Wash your body before entering a bath
Do not put towels in the bathtub.
Nobody wants to soak in water which sweaty person took. Also, towels that scrubbed your body pollute the water.
You should put a towel on top of your head.
2 Behave politely, Needless to say, you mustn’t swim the bath, run and be noisy even if you’re good spirits.
Long hair should be tied up not to soak in the water.
Do not take photos or videos
Wipe your body before entering the changing room
If you follow these rules, you can enjoy bathing and relax.
Have a good time but be careful not to fall asleep because of over relaxing.
Attractive Onsens in Japan
Do you know how many Facilities where Onsens are provided?
There are more than 20000 Onsens in Japan. So, you can find them everywhere, but you will meet with one problem: which one should you visit? In this section, I will recommend you some Onsens I’ve visited before,
Manza Onsen, Gunma prefecture
Manza Onsen is located at Gunma prefecture, north to Tokyo. It takes about 3 hours from Tokyo by Shinkansen and buses.
Manza Onsen is renowned for its altitude, which is above 1800m. It is renowned as the highest Onsen in Japan: it’s surrounded by mountains and volcanoes.
Also, Manza Onsen is famous for its highest quality in terms of sulfur concentration and has 27 kinds of spring quality in Japan.
Sulfur hot springs smell like boiled eggs rotting. They have been proved to have vasodilatory effects and beneficial to hypertension and peripheral circulatory disorders.
There are 7 hotels and a Ryokan, which is the traditional inn.
Out of those options, I have visited 日進館(Nissin-Kan). Inside the building, it is the Japanese style design.
You can stay overnight from 7000 yen including 2 meals and enjoy a one-day bath:1000 yen.
Nissin-Kan has all wooden baths, and they are separated into 6 baths, which have their own uniqueness. Not to exaggerate but I have to say that it is one of the best hot springs that I have ever had.
Shinshu Shibu Onsen Nagano prefecture
Shibu Onsen is a great hot spring resort for those who want to experience the scenery and culture of traditional Japanese hot spring towns.
Especially, if you stay at a ryokan, you can take not only a bath in Ryokan but also 9 baths called 外湯, which have been used by local people for a long time.
Traditional and historical baths will give you the best experience.
Also, Shibu Onsen is also located near Jigokdani Yaen-Koen, famous for its snow monkey, you can see wild monkeys bathing in hot spring.
Also, there are some historical temples on the street. You will be able to see such scenery as if you walk into the animate film.
Hakuba Happo Onsen, Nagano prefecture
Hakuba Happo Onsen is located in Hakuba Village, famous for ski resorts. It’s a great hot spring to heal your tired body after skiing.
And it has one of the strongest alkaline spring qualities in Japan, which has an immeasurable cosmetic effect that makes your skin smooth.
There are 4 Onsens in Hakuba Happo Onsen and I visited 八方の湯(Happo no yu).
Recently, it has become widely known that hydrogen has antioxidants, and it is expected that it will be effective in suppressing aging and preventing diseases.
According to the analysis of the Japan Hot Springs Research Institute, it has found that hydrogen is naturally dissolved into Happo no yu’s source of hot water.
This hot spring which has rich minerals and uniqueness would offer you the best way to relax and have a great time.
Let’s enjoy Onsen experience!
When you visit Japan, Onsen Kingdom, you will be able to find many wonderful hot springs. The Onsens I have introduced are only a small part of them.
Onsen has a variety of factors that will make your trip wonderful: cultural experiences, beauty effects, and so on. When you visit Japan, please stop by Onsens and enjoy them.