Going to an onsen hot spring is one of those quintessentially Japanese experiences that every visitor to the country should have. But is, sadly, an activity many westerners choose to skip for a number of reasons. Coming from a culture where taking a bath with another person is something you really don’t do beyond early childhood, the thought of walking around naked and sitting in a huge bath with a bunch of naked strangers can seem a bit unappealing. I myself was in Japan for two years before I finally decided to take the plunge, but once I did, I was hooked.
Our Japanese writers here at RocketNews24 decided to take a their American pal along for his first onsen experience at the famous Kusatsu Onsen. Find out what he thought of his first ever hot spring soak after the jump.
Meet Ike – New York-born, Seattle-raised, and now a member of a comedy troupe in Japan. He loves Japan and has been here for ages, but has yet to enjoy the wonders of the Japanese hot spring. Our writers were about to fix that problem, though.
(Video is in Japanese only, so see below for a breakdown in English)
Ike and Yoshio here are at Kustasu Onsen in Gunma Prefecture, an area famous for its natural hot springs, getting ready for his first onsen experience.
What to do first? Put on a swim suit and hop in? Ike is a surprised to learn that, no, you actually have to be naked to get in the baths (and you should also shower off first, too), so he goes off to mentally prepare himself.
Finally, his courage mustered, Ike makes an appearance. Our man Yoshio looks strangely pleased to see his pal…
The temperature of the water can take a bit of getting used to as Japan’s hot springs – and even baths at home – are usually much hotter than in the west. Sometimes onsen will have multiple baths of varying temperatures, so if the normal ones are too hot to handle, you can take a dip in one of the “cooler” ones first. Poor Ike unfortunately seems to only have one choice…
But he soon adjusts to the heat, and is able to enjoy a nice soak.
A good, long soak calls for some replenishment; Popular choices for a cool-down beverage are beer or milk. Or in Ike’s case, a bottle of Coke.
So how did Ike enjoy his experience?
▼ “Nihon no onsen, saikou!” (Japanese onsen are the best!)
Sounds like he’ll be back for more!
All images © RocketNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]