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att. Hot Springs - How to bathe in an Onsen
att. Hot Springs - How to bathe in an Onsen
You are here: att.JAPAN > Travel Guide > How to bathe in an Onsen
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How to bathe in an Onsen

KusatsuYou've finally made it to the hotspring. But how do you go about making use of it? Above all, you should never forget to observe the manners and etiquette needed throughout. Here are some important rules to guide you through your first onsen experience - a primer to the laws of the onsen:

1 First of all you will have to completely undress. Clothes are to be taken off in the dressing room (known as the datsui-jo in Japanese). Other than your birthday suit, you may bring one small towel or washcloth to the bathing area for washing with. Do not make the mistake of changing into and going in your bathing suit! It is not allowed.

2 Once in the bathing area, rinse off with hot water before getting into the onsen. At some places there will be a stone tub by the entrance, at others you may be able to wash with soap, bucket and tap, and at some you will have to take the water directly from the onsen itself (In Japanese this is called kakeh-yu). Kakeh-yu can be done with a small bowl or bucket (sometimes with a handle). Hot water is drawn from the tub or tap and poured over the entire body to rinse thoroughly. This is considered one of the most important of onsen manners.

Rotenburo3 After you have completely rinsed, it's time to get into the hot tub. It's best to get in slowly at first (just up to your chest). Get in slowly up to your knees, then up to your waist, followed by chest, then neck. In doing so your body will slowly get used to the water. Do not put the towel into the water temperature. You may see people fold and put it on their heads, now you know why - it doesn't belong in the water. You may also put it on the side of the tub.

4 One dip is usually no more than 10 minutes. As there are mineral elements in the water, longer exposure is not only relaxing, but allows the body to soak up more of those minerals. Getting in at least 2 to 3 times a day is reasonable.

5 Where tap and washing stalls are available, switching from wash stall to tub and back is up to you. Do so at will. Never bring the soap or suds into the tub!

6 Some hot springs provide more than one tub, such as the rotenburo (outdoor onsen). Switching from bath to bath may also be done freely.

7 When your body is hot and you are totally relaxed, taking a shower is entirely up to you, although may be a waste of the onsen's mineral healing properties. Leaving them on may be better for your skin.

8 Once out of the onsen, dry off with a towel. Taking a nap is effective; bathing in a hotspring takes quite some physical energy.

The Way of the Bath

Onsen is not just good for the mineral qualities of the spring, some establishments provide a variety of bathing facilities. Proper use depends on the temperature or nature of these facilities. But the rules are not strict, they can only be presented as suggestions. Finding the best way to use the facilities is a matter of personal preference. Find the way that's right for you.

1. The waterfall. A thick beam of water from a spout high above pounds down into the bath below. The bather under this waterfall, positions their acheing shoulders right in the water's path. Don't do this for too long. The benefits could become harmful.

  The Way of the Bath

   
2. Rinsing before bathing. Jumping into the bath without first getting used to the temperature is a good way to get a heart attack. Before getting in to the onsen, be sure to rinse completely with hot water that is about the same temperature. Take your time.   The Way of the Bath

You are here: att.JAPAN > Travel Guide > How to bathe in an Onsen

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