One of Japan’s greatest features is its many natural hot springs called onsens. Thanks to its highly volcanic location, Japan’s countryside is dotted with resorts welcoming tourists all year round.
For some foreigners visiting or living in Japan, public bathing isn’t a very appealing recreation. Reasons for this include tattoos which are considered verboten in many onsens, and the fact that foreigners tend to stick out like a sore thumb and might draw uncomfortable stares while bathing.
Now there’s another way to enjoy the relaxing and curative properties of a natural hot spring in the comfort of your own bathroom. If you want to know how, then give our easy manual “How to Set Up an Onsen in Your Own Home” a quick read.
Update: Sadly the company that supplied our onsen water has since been taken over. Its replacement company no longer offers a take-away service. If you’re still in the mood for an onsen experience, however, why not check out Yumori no Sato instead?
The key to making your own onsen is that many Japanese onsens actually offer bathe-in or take-out service. If you didn’t know you could order hot spring water to go, don’t feel bad. Most Japanese people don’t know either.
Before going to the onsen you’re going to have to buy some containers to carry the water. I bought four foldable containers that hold 20L (5.3 gal) each for about 600 yen (US$7.50) a pop. You probably have realized at this point that your either going to need a car or a team of strong people to carry the water.
Go to the onsen you want to buy from. You may want to call ahead to confirm that they offer the water for take-out. I chose Yukari Jindaiji Onsen in Chofu, Tokyo. When you get there, you’ll have to find the “Onsen Stand” which is a place where you can tap into the main water source.
[Yukari Jindaiji Onsen’s Stand Details]
■ Every 20L (5.3 gal) of water costs 900 yen (US$11)
■ Yukari Jindaiji Onsen’s water contains many salts which may damage some bath tubs so you need to dilute it with three times the amount of regular water.
■ Previously there was a stand to get the water, but now you need to ask the staff to directly get the water.
For this place the “Onsen Stand” doesn’t even really exist. You just fill the container up off of a pipe. In any case you should just ask the staff for assistance. I bought 80L (21 gal) of hot spring water for a total of 3,600 yen (US$45).
Drive the water home by car, unless you’re freakishly strong. Then start pouring it into the bathtub. Don’t forget to dilute it like the sign instructed; 3 parts hot water to 1 part onsen water.
How about that? Just three easy steps and you can have an onsen in the comfort of your own home. One final word of advice: Don’t leave the hot spring water sitting in the bath tub for too long. The colored onsen water will begin to stain the bath tub if left in there. To be safe, if you fill the tub in the evening you should probably empty it out by the next morning. Happy soaking!
Original Story by Toshio at Pouch (Japanese)
▼Yukari Jindaiji Onsen
▼Filling up the containers. This part of the onsen isn’t quite as luxurious as the main part.
▼The former “Onsen Stand”
▼Finally, to fill the tub up.