Everyone who has been to Japan told me to go to an Onsen, that is if you are comfortable being naked in front of other people.
A Japanese Onsen is a hot spring with volcanic water. Japan being a volcanically active country, there are many Onsens all over the country. The legal definition of an onsen includes the requirement that its water must contain at least one of 19 designated chemical elements, including such minerals as iron, sulfur, and metabolic acid, and have an average temperature of 25 °C (77 °F) or warmer at the point of release.
Not to say that I am uncomfortable being naked but obviously living in the US its public nudity isn’t a norm really anywhere. I am always up for an adventure and a unique experience so I of course was going to try it. At first, I was a little nervous more so because there are so many traditions and rules that I really didn’t know about but I followed what other people were doing and figured it out. The experience was so relaxing and I felt like a million dollars when I left. I would definitely do that again.
The nudity as well as the stress of not knowing the bath etiquette, make it easy for people to get nervous and want to skip it. This is such a shame as it is the most rejuvenating and healing places leaving the skin feeling brand new.
- Tell yourself you are comfortable in your own skin. Who cares, its a great experience and no one is looking at you.
- Tattoos are not allowed at most so you won’t be allowed in if you have one.
- Most simple to medium-range Onsen expect you to bring your own soap and face towel. At some high-end places, all towels, soap, shampoos, and other toiletries are included in the entry fee.
- It’s best to use coin lockers for any valuable items or documents (though theft in Japan is rare).
- Photographs are not allowed so don’t pull out your phone.
- Don’t swim in the bath…use it only for quiet soaking and contemplation.
- Many people prefer to put their towel on their head while bathing and some try to cover a bit when walking but it is just a hand towel.
How it works:
- You will get a wrist band that is where you charge everything to.
- You will pick out your yukata
- Enter the changing facilities and put on your yukata. You will wear this to the foot baths or salt baths that may include both sexes.
- When you enter the baths you will take off your yukata and wash carefully BEFORE you enter the water. They will have small stools to sit on and a separate washing area away from the water.
- After leaving the bath, wipe off excess water and sweat as best as possible with your face towel prior to re-entering the locker room.
- There are often massages or salt rooms that you can pay extra to enter.
- Many onsen have rooms where you can lie down and nap, drink a cold beer or tea, play games and socialize.
- When you are finished you will get changed and showered. They have brushes and dryers. You will then step out and pay. Make sure you keep your keys with you at all times.
If you find yourself in Japan, make sure you schedule a day to visit an Onsen. If I had more time I would have picked a Ryokan which includes a hotel and typically a traditional Japanese meal.
Don’t be nervous because baby you were born this way!