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The art of onsen


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The jigoku-onsen I showed in my post about Beppu are an exception. Onsens are usually for bathing and you don't want to miss that experience if you go to Japan! Being a foreigner, some people may discretely stare at you, but thankfully it rarely happens. In fact, they are just worried that you might not respect the bathing etiquette, which is very easy to follow...provided you know it! Here is a quick explanation.

The most important thing you need to know is that you must wash yourself BEFORE entering the bath. There is usually a shower area:

Sit down and wash yourself thoroughly. Soap and shampoo are usually supplied and it is common practice to bring a small towel to use as a wash cloth (you can find one at any 100-yen shop, and most onsens also sell them). If you're being stared at, it suddenly stops when you start washing yourself.

Depending on the onsen, there may be one final thing you need to do before entering the bath. If you see a small tub like this:

With something like かけ湯 or かき湯, which literally means "hot water to pour", usually written, then you have to pour some of that water on your body a couple times. I don't know why this is part of the procedure as you're already clean by now, it must be some kind of ritual.

That's it! You can now relax. Depending on the onsen, the number and size of baths can vary as well as the water composition, environment etc...For me, the best is to bathe outdoor in winter in a beautiful, natural environment, it's just fantastic!

Here are some types of baths. Standard:



But also jacuzzi, cascade bath, electric bath, steam bath...

If you're a couple, you should also keep in mind that some private baths can be reserved for an hour or so...I strongly recommend that!

By the way, outdoor baths are called rotenburo (露天風呂)...

A final detail, that might represent a problem to some: in an onsen, one bathes naked. Men and women are usually in different sections, but mixed-bathing onsen can still be found in some remote areas...pretty rare though.

Oh, and take your time. The purpose of an onsen is to relax...

Categories: Everyday life - Onsen

6 comment(s)

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By Alan on 01/14/2007 at 18:23:29

[citation]Idéal pour réaliser certains fantasmes [/citation]
Comme venir jouer avec des canards en plastique ? c'est ca ?

By Lyssia des Iles (Sylvie) on 09/27/2007 at 19:04:34

Ooooo salut mon pote!! Je peux constater que la tu avais l'air à ton aise ;) je t envie ::: ))) . Ma bonne réso de la rentrée te suivre pas à pas sur ton blog ;)
gros bizou

By Jean de Qbec. on 02/10/2008 at 20:59:07

Ca me donne la motivation de m`entrainer plus fort ... pas question de me laisser voir le petit ventre blance d`un québecois!
On va travailler fort avant de faire un ''sceau'' au Japon! Question de pas se placer dans l`eau chaude!Bravo,pour les photos ca calme !chanceux.

By Tarto on 02/21/2008 at 06:36:38

Merci et bienvenue ! Content d'avoir un lecteur du Québec !

By Eno on 05/18/2009 at 11:55:41

Te voir ensevelli dans la boue avec juste la tête qui dépasse.... J'adore !!! Je comprend mieux ton goût pour les bains à présent.

By Elise on 10/18/2009 at 18:10:40

y'a pas des onsen pour touristes où on peut venir se détendre avec son chéri en maillot de bain qd mme ?! ^_^

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