Japanese onsen: how to behave here? In the footsteps of the White Egret

Egret and the healing power of mineral waters

Onsen - hot baths with mineral water from a geothermal source is an important component of the national tradition of Japan, like Shinto, bushido and tea ceremony. And if during your trip you didn’t visit onsen, an important component in realizing Japan is missed.

The Land of the Rising Sun is located on islands of volcanic origin and is literally replete with hot springs, here there are more than 26,000. And the fact that in any other country is a unique SPA, in Japan is an affordable and traditional way to improve health. Depending on the composition of water, onsen treats diseases of the blood vessels and female internal organs, helps with skin diseases and neuralgia. Hot springs stimulate metabolism and rejuvenate the skin. It is also known that visiting the onsen soothes the nerves and immerses the person in the bath in a state of relaxed contemplation. However, bathing in hot water can be detrimental to people with heart disease.

The usual water temperature in Onsen is 40−45 degrees, although there are very hot and very cold springs. When visiting Onsen, people often take turns in several baths with different composition and temperature of water, located indoors or outdoors. Most onsen are provided separate - male and female - half, but in the provinces there are still common swimming pools.

The history of the oldest onsen - Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama - has more than 3000 years. According to legend, the white heron dipped its damaged leg into the hot water of the spring and was completely healed. The first onsen was built at this place, and the images of the legendary heron still adorn its interior. The workers of this onsen with trepidation will list all the emperors and their family members, who for many centuries had come to Matsuyama specifically to take a mineral bath in the pool for the imperial family.

It is not surprising that for such a long period of Japanese use of hot springs a simple and rational set of rules of behavior in onsen has developed. All of them are quite logical from a hygienic and ethical point of view.

Onsen visit algorithm

1. Entering onsen, we take off our shoes and only after that we step on the floor covered with mats.
2. We place the shoes in one of the cells of the shoe cabinet and close them.
3. We pass inside onsen, we take yukata (a kind of kimono), if it is provided for by this establishment, we acquire, if necessary, a towel, shampoo and other bath accessories in the vending machine or from the onsen staff.
4. In a specially designated room, we remove all our clothes and put on a yukata.
5. We close all our belongings in the closet cell for clothes.
6. In the locker room, we remove the yukata, put it together with a large towel in the basket, leave it, and taking with us only a small towel and the key to the cell with things, go into the room with the pool.
7. We take a shower, paying particular attention to the intimate parts of the body and feet. Gradually raising the temperature of the water, it is possible to almost completely adapt the body to the temperature of the pool. This will enhance the effect and pleasure of visiting the bath.
8. Slowly plunge into the pool with hot water, allowing the body to relax and absorb the warmth.
9. We leave from the bath and lather at one of the taps. To carry out this procedure, the Japanese sit on low stools and pour water from small tubs so as not to sprinkle onsen water on other souls. But this is not necessary, the main thing is to thoroughly wash all the soap off the body before the next immersion in the bath.
10. Re-immerse yourself in hot water and bliss in the bathroom for as long as you like, without forgetting to make allowances for the state of your cardiovascular system.
11. Coming out of the bathroom, wiped with a small towel and complete this procedure with a large towel in the locker room.
12. Depending on the possibilities of onsen and the type of ticket purchased, we continue to spend time in rooms for rest or change clothes and leave onsen.

We observe etiquette

Onsen and loud conversations are incompatible. You can talk, but so as not to attract attention and not disturb others.

In no case should a towel be dipped in hot mineral water or immersed in a bathing suit. According to the Japanese, this changes the composition of the water and makes it difficult to clean the bath. In some modern onsenas in big cities, swimsuits are allowed, but such onseny are already more like water parks.

It must be remembered that the yukata is worn on the chest on the right side, for both men and women, only the funeral kimono is traditionally plowed on the left side, but the belt - obi - is attached to the waist of women and on the hips of men.

It is indecent to look at other onsen visitors, especially of the opposite sex, but you should not be embarrassed by your own nudity. The Japanese treat nudity very calmly, and the appearance of a foreign tourist differing from them in skin color or physique will also not attract much attention, such is the traditional culture of behavior.

Still the rules of use recommend not to drink water from the pool. Often, source water contains potent minerals that can be toxic if ingested. If necessary, you can take along a soft drink in a plastic bottle (glass packaging is prohibited). And best of all - drink green tea in the lounge. This will enhance the healing effect of the bath.

So, the session of therapy with geothermal water procedures is completed, and you are again full of energy and ready for new trips to temples, museums and parks in an effort to understand the incomprehensible - the culture of mysterious Japan!

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