Japan is Home to Over 3,000 Hot Springs, Which is More Than Anywhere Else in the World
Japan is home to over 3,000 hot springs, called “onsen” (温泉) in Japanese. With more hot springs than anywhere else in the world, it is a popular pastime and an important part of Japanese culture.
There are a large number of hot spring resort towns located throughout the country, but even in each small city you’ll be able to find some sort of onsen. Onsen can come in a variety of forms, such as small public bath houses, outdoor pools, or even large resorts.
Due to the nature of the bathing process, most onsen are separated by gender, especially at larger resorts. Onsen are typically enjoyed naked, which at first may seem off-putting to many foreigners.
Before entering the bath, you first will need to take a shower. Sounds funny right?
Unlike in the West, the bath in Japan is used for relaxation, and with onsens being shared by many people, it is important to be respectful and keep the water clean. Never bring soap or shampoos into the onsen tubs.
There are many different types of onsen, with various minerals dissolved in the water. Often larger facilities will have multiple baths for different purposes, so be sure to spend some time soaking in each.
It is advisable not to shower after you are done soaking, or else you won’t reap the full benefits of the minerals.
While visiting onsen is very common for Japanese people, it’s an experience a lot of foreigners opt to skip out on, but you really shouldn’t! Yes, it might be embarrassing for the first 5 minutes, but I promise it gets easier after that. By the time you’re soaking in the tub, you won’t have a care in the world!
If it’s your first time, I recommend going to larger resort-type facility, as the staff there are very helpful and the atmosphere might not be as intimidating.
Reso Resort in Osaka was my first introduction to Japanese onsen, and I highly recommend it. We spent the first part of our day enjoying the pools and water park, before relaxing in the hot springs.
If given the chance, do set time aside to visit an onsen. It’s a relaxing experience you won’t be quick to forget!
3 Chome-13 Naruohama, Nishinomiya-shi, Hyōgo-ken, Japan
[post by Beth]
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