If you’re looking for Japan traveling tips, please read my previous article.
In this article I would like to talk about Japanese hot springs. When visiting Japan soaking in the naturally heated water of an onsen really is a must. I hardly can think of anything that is more relaxing after a day filled with activities.
When my boyfriend and I went on a bike tour through the beautiful landscapes of Hokkaido, we stayed in lots of traditional ryokans, which all had an onsen. Although we weren’t exactly experienced bike riders, we never once had a muscle ache. Up till this day I am still convinced that the steaming hot bath we took every evening helped prevent any pain. And sure, the water of some onsen is considered to be good for your health.
Be warned though, most onsen are separated by gender and in rural areas you’ll find some people staring at you, strange foreigner. It happened to me more than one time that I had one half of the bath to myself, while the rest of the Japanese women preferred sitting as far away from me as possible. Actually I didn’t mind. More room for me! 😉
One very important rule to remember when visiting an onsen: it is considered very (VERY) rude to enter the hot bath without washing yourself thoroughly beforehand. Most of the bathing facilities offer shower gel and shampoos, but you can, of course, bring your own. The washing is done on a little stool and make sure to wash of any remaining soap, so that you can enter the communal bath squeaky clean.
More on onsen etiquette:
Some absolutely beautiful onsen to visit: