Onsen is a traditional type of bath found in Japan. It is known for its natural mineral-rich waters, luxurious facilities and relaxing atmosphere. Onsen are found throughout Japan, from small rural villages to large metropolitan cities, and are a unique way to experience Japanese culture.

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What is Onsen?

Onsen are typically located in places where geothermal activity is present and the water is heated naturally. The hot water is then used to fill baths or pools, allowing visitors to soak and relax. Depending on the onsen, additional amenities such as saunas, steam rooms, and massage services may also be available.

The best thing to do in winter is going to Onsen.

The water at onsen is known for its rich minerals, which are thought to have therapeutic benefits. Taking an onsen bath is said to help improve circulation, reduce stress, and boost overall health and wellbeing. As a result, many people visit onsen to relax and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the hot water.



Types of Onsen in Japan

Onsens contain naturally occurring minerals such as sodium chloride, magnesium sulfate, calcium carbonate, iron oxide, sulfur, and potassium, which can reduce inflammation, relax muscles, stimulate the immune system, improve circulation, reduce stress, and improve skin tone. Onsens can also be a great way to relax and de-stress, as the warm water and peaceful atmosphere can be very calming.

The types of minerals commonly found in Japanese onsens include:

  • Sodium chloride: This mineral is known for its ability to reduce inflammation and relax muscles.
  • Magnesium sulfate: This mineral is known for its ability to reduce stress and improve skin health.
  • Calcium carbonate: This mineral is known for its ability to improve circulation and stimulate the immune system.
  • Iron oxide: This mineral is known for its ability to improve skin tone and reduce fatigue.
  • Sulfur: This mineral is known for its ability to reduce inflammation and promote healing.

Additionally, onsens are a great way to connect with nature, as many onsens are located in beautiful natural settings.


9 Popular Onsen Site in Japan

The 9 onsen sites listed are among the most popular and highly rated in Japan. Each of these onsens offers something unique and special, from the naturally occurring minerals in Arima Onsen to the stunning views of Mt. Fuji in Hakone Onsen.

These onsens are perfect for relaxation and rejuvenation, and many are said to have healing properties for various ailments. Whether you are looking for a peaceful and calming experience or a therapeutic soak, these onsens are sure to provide an unforgettable experience.

  1. Arima Onsen (Hyogo Prefecture): This onsen is the oldest hot spring in Japan and is known for its naturally occurring minerals, which are said to help rejuvenate and heal the body.
  2. Kusatsu Onsen (Gunma Prefecture): This onsen is known for its hot springs, which are said to contain the highest concentration of minerals in Japan.
  3. Gero Onsen (Gifu Prefecture): This onsen is known for its variety of hot spring baths, which are said to have healing properties for various ailments.
  4. Noboribetsu Onsen (Hokkaido Prefecture): This onsen is known for its healing hot springs, which are said to have been used for centuries by the Ainu people.
  5. Shirahama Onsen (Wakayama Prefecture): This onsen is known for its stunning natural setting, which is said to be a beautiful place to relax and rejuvenate.
  6. Beppu Onsen (Oita Prefecture): This onsen is known for its variety of hot spring baths, which are said to be perfect for relaxation and rejuvenation.
  7. Yunomine Onsen (Wakayama Prefecture): This onsen is known for its unique hot spring baths, which are said to be fed by a single source.
  8. Hakone Onsen (Kanagawa Prefecture): This onsen is known for its stunning views of Mt. Fuji and its hot springs, which are said to be perfect for a relaxing soak.
  9. Kawaji Onsen (Tochigi Prefecture): This onsen is known for its hot spring baths, which are said to be naturally carbonated and rich in minerals.

If you are visiting Tokyo only during your trip and you are interested in onsen, I would highly recommend you to take a look at the onsen in Hakone. Due to its proximity to Tokyo, it is also very common to see Japanese doing a weekend trip to Hakone too!


Etiquette of Visiting an Onsen

An onsen is a traditional Japanese hot spring bath, and is an important part of Japanese culture. Visiting an onsen can be a unique and special experience, but it is also important to know and follow the etiquette of visiting an onsen.


Preparations

Before visiting an onsen, it is important to make sure the onsen is appropriate for your needs. Some onsens are gender-segregated, while others are mixed-gender. Additionally, some onsens may have age restrictions. It is also important to make sure that you do not have any open wounds or cuts, as the hot spring water can cause irritation.


Bathing

We have to rinse off ourselves first.

When entering the onsen, it is important to first rinse off in the shower area. Once in the onsen, it is important to maintain a respectful silence. It is also important to avoid splashing the water, as this can disturb others.


Clothing

When exiting the onsen, it is important to wear a towel or a yukata, as these are considered to be appropriate attire. It is also important to not wear any clothing that is overly revealing.


Having Tattoos?

It is important to note that some onsens do not allow visitors with tattoos, as tattoos can be seen as offensive in Japanese culture.

Visitors might be rejected to enter the onsen if they have tattoos on body. Some onsens do accepts visitors with tattoos, but they would require the visitor to cover the tattooed part with tapes. Thus, it is always better to check the policy in advance.


Bottom Line

Onsen is a great way to relax and experience the culture of Japan. Whether you’re looking to unwind after a long day of exploring or simply relax in the hot spring waters, onsen is a unique and enjoyable experience. With its natural mineral-rich waters, luxurious facilities and relaxing atmosphere, onsen is a must-do for anyone traveling to Japan.


FAQ

Are tattoos allowed in the onsen?

Some onsens do not allow visitors with tattoos, as tattoos can be seen as offensive in Japanese culture. It is best to check with the onsen in advance to determine their policy on tattoos.

Is it necessary to shower before entering the onsen?

Yes, it is important to rinse off in the shower area before entering the onsen.

Is it okay to talk while in the onsen?

Generally, it is best to maintain a respectful silence while in the onsen.

Can I drink alcohol before visiting the onsen?

It is not recommended to drink alcohol before visiting the onsen, as alcohol can cause dehydration and make the hot spring water feel even hotter.

What should I eat after visiting the onsen?

After visiting the onsen, it is best to eat a light meal that is easy to digest, such as fruits and vegetables. Eating a meal that is high in protein and carbohydrates is also recommended, as these can help replenish energy and nutrients that were lost from sweating in the onsen.

Some Japanese like drinking a bottle of cold milk right after visiting the onsen. The contrast of hot and cold is feeling great.

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