It may come as a surprise to learn that communal bathing is as much a part of Japanese culture as raw fish or landscaped gardens. Girls of years-old and younger and boys of 8-years-old and younger may enter baths of either gender. Here is our expert guide to public bathing like a pro.
There are many types of hot springs to enjoy. The conventional hot spring is a hot water bath. Depending on the spring, different minerals are dissolved in the water, giving it different health benefits, colors and smells.
Please do not think about work and relax as much as possible. Those with a few hundred Yen entry fees generally cost less than their Western spas and without a fear public nudity can soak in the mineral-rich waters, which many claim can cleanse both the body and mind. But since the pink blossoms are such a draw, 11 large stone baths are situated near windows and there are also outdoor tubs to invite nature in.
Many articles and forum discussions about onsen state that even mixed bathing is done in the nude. However, I have read several blog entries of women who were told to cover their private parts with a towel by the other Japanese bathers. Some descriptions of onsen on japan -guide, on the other hand, state that mixed bathing with swimwear is available. The same seems to be the case for some all?
So the most essential item is a small towel to cover your privates. Everything else is optional. When you enter, leave your shoes in a shoe locker.
Dipping into the thermal waters of Kyushu is a must, especially if you can do it with all of your friends or significant other. Every year, more facilities are closing their doors or changing their policies so that men and women bathe separately. Traditionally, onsen were meant for men and women to bathe together, so many advocates are pushing to preserve the old ways.
Well, if you happen to be in Japan, you can do it with your friends — as long as they are the same sex. Even though the country is totally modern and has state-of-the-art plumbing, like toilets with warmed seats that wash your bottom with a press of a button, the Japanese communal bath — the onsen and the ofuroya — has endured. Be forewarned.
Travelling the world is about exploring new cultures and traditions. And sometimes you do that completely naked, surrounded by equally naked locals, wearing nothing but your warmest smile. Many countries around the world regard public bath houses, spas and saunas as a much-cherished part of their heritage and way of life.
Japan is proud of its bathing traditions. For many Westerners, though, the fact that these traditions involve being naked with strangers is awkward at best, even though men and women bathe separately. On my first trip I tried to wriggle out of a friend's offer to take me to an onsen, or hot springs resort.
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