No, that’s not a screenshot from a Ghibli Film, it’s real life!
Onsen etiquette can be confusing for a foreigner visiting for the first time, and there are many small rules and customs that even many Japanese people aren’t quite clear on. There aren’t usually any written instructions around the baths as it is expected that everyone will already know the basic customs surrounding communal bathing. This means that things people who have grown up in Japan take for granted, such as putting your shoes in a locker when you arrive or knowing which towels to use for what, can be hard to figure out for first-timers, and your supposedly relaxing spa break can become a little bit stressful.
Check out the video below to see how our Japan Wish competition winner Ashley navigated her first ever trip to an onsen and see if she found it relaxing…or stressful!
In the land of earthquakes, typhoons, blistering summers and mountains of snow in the winter, Japan’s plentiful and luxurious hot springs are Mother Nature’s way of letting us know that she doesn’t totally hate us.
But the number of true hot springs – where water naturally comes from the ground rather than being pumped in and then heated – is lower than you might imagine. Many places such as the new “hot spring” being built in Shinjuku have their water shipped in from a real hot spring source.
And now, if you live in the Kanto area, you can ship in your own hot spring water too! Why pay entry into some huge complex when you can soak in your own home bathtub away from the leering eyes of RocketNews24 journalists or tattoo-prudes. Oh, and did we mention it’s ridiculously cheap?
Many foreign visitors to Japan are curious about taking a dip in one of Japan’s many hot springs or sento public baths, but are deterred by two factors: the embarrassment of being naked in public, and the worry that even having a small tattoo – very much taboo in Japan – might result in being ejected from the premises. While the first issue is something that can be overcome with a little bravery, the second issue is undoubtedly a problem.
However, a resort inn in Nagano has now publicly stated that they will allow foreigners with small tattoos to enter, providing they cover up the offending ink with a patch.
The ryokan [traditional Japanese-style inn] in Akita Prefecture called Miyakowasure (都わすれ; “forget the city”), also known as Natsuse Onsen, is unquestionably the best in all of Japan–at least according to our Japanese correspondent Yoshio. Out of all of the ryokan that he has ever visited, he can confidently say that this is his number-one pick.
Yoshio has stayed at literally hundreds of hotels and ryokan across the country for both business and pleasure, but he recently experienced an unparalleled level of hospitality and overall quality during his stay at this particular inn. He even thinks that hotel managers from across Japan and the world should spend a night there to learn a thing or two! That’s how enthusiastically he praises his most recent visit.
Join Yoshio for an in-depth look at this spectacular ryokan in northern Japan after the jump!
When you think of an onsen, what springs to mind? Tranquil steaming pools surrounded by misty mountains and bamboo groves? This is probably the the ideal image of a hot springs getaway, but there are actually over 200 onsen facilities to be found amidst the high-rise office blocks and busy roads of central Tokyo. And there’s soon to be one more to enjoy in Otemachi, right in the heart of Tokyo’s business district.
Tokyo may be the largest city in the world, but Tokyoites still long for the comforts of rural Japan. While the less populous cities don’t have all the luxuries of a major metropolitan city, what they have in spades are hot springs. Hot springs remain one of the most popular getaway destinations for the busy Japanese worker. Day trips, short weekend trips, everyone longs for the chance to relax in the soothing waters of a hot spring.
But where do you find a nice, relaxing hot spring within the 23 wards of Tokyo? Is it really possible to find one that is reasonably priced? Can you find one where people respect the rules? Where guests won’t immediately enter the bath before washing themselves which makes the water dirty and suspicious? Where you won’t have to wonder what that thing floating in the water is? The answer is a resounding yes and it’s closer than you think!
If you’ve ever experienced a soak in a hot outdoor spring, or rotenburo, in the middle of the snow, you’ll know the incredible sensation of extreme cold and heat on your body is an experience that’s hard to beat. With the best of the snow still to come in January and February, we’ve found five of the best snow-covered hot spring destinations perfect for a weekend getaway. From water slides to goblin masks, this collection of winter snowscapes will help you beat the winter chill in the most unique way possible.
There’s no nation in the world that loves hot springs more than Japan. Known as onsen (lit. warm 温, and spring 泉), there are very few Japanese alive who could ever claim to having never taken a dip. If you’re tired, you head to the onsen; if you’re going on holiday, you visit an onsen; you go to the onsen to hang out with your friends, on a date, to relax with the family – anything is an excuse to strip off and let the hot water soak your aches, pains and worries away!
But onsen actually exist all over the world, even in America. Today our Japanese reporter Yoshio reports on his stay at a hot spring hotel in America, and his experiences in their natural sulfur spa. Let’s find out if the US’s version of the hot spa stands up to our reporter’s rigorous testing…
Due to its location in the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” Japan has many onsen (natural hot springs). The mineral composition of each onsen varies and is said to provide bathers with different health benefits. One onsen in particular, named Ryujin (lit. Dragon God), is also known as bijin no yu or “the beautiful women hot spring.” It is hailed as a hot spring for enhancing beauty and the waters are said to smooth and moisturize skin. Despite these claims being repeated for hundreds of years, some may still be skeptical. However, a recent study suggests that the waters of Ryujin Onsen actually have beautifying capabilities.
Have you ever seen a capybara? Originally from South America, and immensely popular in Japan, capybaras are actually the world’s largest rodents. They can weigh as much as a person, can run as fast as a young horse, and they can bark and purr. But that’s not all. These cute little animals love to bathe in Japanese-style hot springs. And when they do, they do it with such blissful expressions that you can’t help but smile.
When we first caught sight of these images, we wondered whether we ought to go back and update our recent unusual hot spring resort article. Checking the location of these hot spa resort hotels, though, we soon learned that – despite looking unmistakably Japanese in every way – these hotels are actually situated in none other than Taiwan. And I always thought the British dull for seeking out an English pub as soon as they arrive abroad…
Enormous photo dump after the jump!
During these chilly winter months, there’s nothing quite like taking a dip in a natural hot spring and feeling your aching muscles soften like a pan of chocolate on a warm log cabin stove. But if you’ve seen every onsen (hot spring) that Japan has to offer or are simply wishing to avoid the crowds of like-minded visitors, locating a new place to bathe isn’t easy. Thankfully, help is at hand.
In an article over at Yahoo! Japan’s R25 digital magazine, a member of the Nihon Onsen Kyoukai (Japan Hot Spring Association) lets readers in on three little-known, not to mention rather unusual, hot spring locations that are sure to leave you with plenty of tales to tell family and friends. All the juicy info after the break.
Everyone on Earth be they young or old, man or woman, human or animal loves a good sit in a warm place. That’s the main reason for the hot spring’s popularity in many parts of the world.
However, we caught word of one or more young females who love bathing so much they want to do it publicly on camera for the whole world to see! You have to hurry though there’s only a short time to see it.
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.