All You Need to Know About Onsens in Japan

Offering a unique traditional experience that will benefit you as well, onsens in Japan are not just popular with locals but tourists as well. If you have not had the chance to enjoy an onsen before, these insights will help you to prepare for what will be a truly relaxing time!

What Exactly is an Onsen?

Onsens are hot springs, revered for their therapeutic properties and natural allure. With temperatures typically exceeding 25°C and water containing a variety of mineral elements, they offer a blissful retreat for body and soul. A natural onsen is called a ‘tennen onsen’ since the waters are sourced from geothermal springs. One example of this is the Tenzan-no-yu Onsen which can be accessed by those staying at a Kyoto, Japan hotel in the city centre such as Park Hotel Kyoto. On the other hand, a jinko-onsen is artificially created to offer such conditions.

Day-use Onsens

Tamatsukuri Onsen
Image via Wikimedia Commons – 663highland, 140427 Chorakuen Tamatsukuri Onsen Matsue Shimane pref Japan15s3, CC BY-SA 3.0

For a taste of onsen bliss without the commitment of an overnight stay, day-use onsens are ideal. Simply make a reservation or arrive spontaneously to indulge in the therapeutic waters. Open to the public, they provide a range of amenities, while admission fees can vary depending on what’s on offer. For those who may feel too shy for a full body soak, there is an option referred to as ‘Ashiyu’; you will get to dip your feet in a pool with hot spring water, often found in charming towns known for their onsens.

Etiquette at an Onsen

It’s important to know some onsen etiquette. Begin your onsen journey by cleansing yourself thoroughly with a shower utilising the provided soap and shampoo, before entering the bath. Keep to a moderate time in the hot springs to avoid dehydration and while you may chat with others, observe a low noise level to preserve the tranquil ambiance. Additionally, refrain from diving, splashing, or photography, and remember to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before and after your onsen soak.

Some Key Benefits

The ancient practice of onsen bathing also offers diverse health and wellness benefits which has made it popular in Japan for centuries. From improved blood circulation to stress relief and muscle relaxation, the mineral-rich waters of these hot springs provide a holistic approach to healing and rejuvenation. You can experience the therapeutic properties of onsens to ease aches and pains, enhance skin radiance, enjoy better sleep, and restore balance to body and mind as well.