Ready to get naked with strangers?
Travelling is about embracing new experiences. In Japan that could mean leaving your clothes, along with your comfort zone, in a neat pile behind when you visit an onsen.
Onsen can be best described as a communal natural hot spring bath packed with minerals that’s good for your skin and is an essential part of the Japanese bathing culture.
There’s really nothing more relaxing or therapeutic than lying back in a hot bath after a long day – especially when you’re surrounded by falling snow, overlooking a beautiful mountain view, or listening to a river rushing past.
Unlike in the Blue Lagoon or the famous baths of Budapest, onsens are quiet places. There’s minimal chatting and absolutely no selfie-taking.
– Most onsens aren’t mixed so find the right changing room. Kanji for men (男) (blue curtain) and the kanji for women (女) (red curtain).
– You must be completely clean from a fresh shower. This includes scrubbing every square centimeter of your body before submerging yourself into the water, and only up to your neck. Long hair has to be tied up.
– You’ll be given a tiny towel, aka your precious 😜, which you can use to cover your private parts for modesty until entering the onsen. Don’t bring your towel with you into the water. Put it on the edge of the bath or on your head while in the water.
– People with tattoos might be denied entry, though this is slowly changing. Traditionally, tattoos in Japan were associated with members of the maffia (yakuza).
– Do not pee in the bath (duh). Japanese onsen use chemicals that color the water purple when it comes in contact with urine.
Here’s a video.
Pack your birthday suit and enjoy the traditional Japanese bath experience!