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My First Japanese Onsen Experience  | Nozawa Onsen
My First Japanese Onsen Experience | Nozawa Onsen
Published: 2017/06/23
Channel: Gareth Leonard
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ONSEN IN JAPAN | Tsuru no Yu
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ONSEN IN JAPAN | Tsuru no Yu
Published: 2016/12/13
Channel: Sharla in Japan
6 Tips to enjoy Japanese public bath at Ooedo-Onsen
6 Tips to enjoy Japanese public bath at Ooedo-Onsen
Published: 2016/08/15
Channel: Beable Global
How to do Japanese Onsen (adventures inside a traditional Japanese public bath)
How to do Japanese Onsen (adventures inside a traditional Japanese public bath)
Published: 2015/03/22
Channel: Texan in Tokyo
JAPAN HOT SPRING | Onsen in TOKYO | Ft. Sunnydahye
JAPAN HOT SPRING | Onsen in TOKYO | Ft. Sunnydahye
Published: 2016/10/19
Channel: kimdao
How to Use a Japanese Onsen (A rare look INSIDE one)
How to Use a Japanese Onsen (A rare look INSIDE one)
Published: 2015/06/15
Channel: Notes of Nomads
Onsen en Japón | Tokyo Infinito #9
Onsen en Japón | Tokyo Infinito #9
Published: 2016/02/15
Channel: dvstokyo
Japanese Onsen (Hot Spring): First Time! 大江戸温泉
Japanese Onsen (Hot Spring): First Time! 大江戸温泉
Published: 2015/09/14
Channel: Eric Abroad
Japanese Onsen Etiquette
Japanese Onsen Etiquette
Published: 2016/08/14
Channel: Shiran De Silva
Ureshino Onsen, one of Japan
Ureshino Onsen, one of Japan's top 3 onsens [Battle Trip / 2016.08.07]
Published: 2016/08/07
Channel: KBS World TV
Dogo Onsen | Ancient Bath House Secrets Revealed ★ ONLY in JAPAN
Dogo Onsen | Ancient Bath House Secrets Revealed ★ ONLY in JAPAN
Published: 2016/10/20
Channel: ONLY in JAPAN
How To Take An Onsen
How To Take An Onsen
Published: 2015/08/28
Channel: Luchia Hwang
NAMARI ONSEN - Japanese Hot springs in IWATE - 鉛温泉 岩手県花巻市
NAMARI ONSEN - Japanese Hot springs in IWATE - 鉛温泉 岩手県花巻市
Published: 2016/10/17
Channel: kanadajin3
UN ONSEN PUBLIC MIXTE ! VLOG TAIWAN
UN ONSEN PUBLIC MIXTE ! VLOG TAIWAN
Published: 2017/07/11
Channel: Laurent Caccia
[Select Onsen Japan] (Charm of Jinpyokaku)/ Best hot spring hotel in Japan
[Select Onsen Japan] (Charm of Jinpyokaku)/ Best hot spring hotel in Japan
Published: 2014/04/28
Channel: Select Onsen Japan
Things you CANNOT do at Japanese Onsen (Rules for the public bath in Japan)
Things you CANNOT do at Japanese Onsen (Rules for the public bath in Japan)
Published: 2015/04/09
Channel: Texan in Tokyo
ONSEN MIXTE ET RENCONTRES À AKITA
ONSEN MIXTE ET RENCONTRES À AKITA
Published: 2017/02/15
Channel: Ichiban Japan
Japanese Ryokan Tour - AMAZING PRIVATE ONSEN in Hakone, Japan | $708.16 Per Night!
Japanese Ryokan Tour - AMAZING PRIVATE ONSEN in Hakone, Japan | $708.16 Per Night!
Published: 2017/07/25
Channel: Mark Abroad
A Secret Onsen!
A Secret Onsen!
Published: 2017/04/19
Channel: ONLY in JAPAN * GO
Staying at an Exclusive RYOKAN & ONSEN in JAPAN (Traditional Japanese Inn)
Staying at an Exclusive RYOKAN & ONSEN in JAPAN (Traditional Japanese Inn)
Published: 2016/08/30
Channel: TheUwagaPies
One of Japan
One of Japan's best hot spring towns: Gero Onsen (guide)
Published: 2016/07/26
Channel: Happy In Japan
THE ULTIMATE ONSEN EXPERIENCE - Japan Trip - Part 5
THE ULTIMATE ONSEN EXPERIENCE - Japan Trip - Part 5
Published: 2016/06/15
Channel: MomentsWithNick
$600 Luxury HOTEL in JAPAN | In-Room Private Onsen
$600 Luxury HOTEL in JAPAN | In-Room Private Onsen
Published: 2017/03/14
Channel: Paolo fromTOKYO
ONSEN | Sendai
ONSEN | Sendai'de Japon Kaplıcası | Japonic
Published: 2017/05/02
Channel: Japonic
Kusatsu Onsen, JAPAN - Summer - 4K (ultra HD) / 草津温泉
Kusatsu Onsen, JAPAN - Summer - 4K (ultra HD) / 草津温泉
Published: 2016/10/21
Channel: 草津温泉観光協会
Best ONSEN with FUJI view in Japan! || Sam in Hakone
Best ONSEN with FUJI view in Japan! || Sam in Hakone
Published: 2017/02/24
Channel: Sam サムコ
2015 10 01 Japanology Plus   Onsen
2015 10 01 Japanology Plus Onsen
Published: 2015/10/29
Channel: Boris Blackra
Onsen in JAPAN 温泉: TATTOOS at Onsens in JAPAN #3: Japan Travel Guide
Onsen in JAPAN 温泉: TATTOOS at Onsens in JAPAN #3: Japan Travel Guide
Published: 2014/10/27
Channel: Experience JAPAN with YUKA
JAPAN VLOG: Japanese Onsen Hotspring in TOKYO
JAPAN VLOG: Japanese Onsen Hotspring in TOKYO
Published: 2015/08/26
Channel: kimdao
1 Million Views and Japan will Open Onsen Amusement Park - TRENDING IN JAPAN
1 Million Views and Japan will Open Onsen Amusement Park - TRENDING IN JAPAN
Published: 2016/11/21
Channel: Tokyosaurus
9 Onsen Challenge  清風荘 Yudanaka Shibu Onsen 2016  Yamanouchi
9 Onsen Challenge 清風荘 Yudanaka Shibu Onsen 2016 Yamanouchi
Published: 2017/01/13
Channel: Manuel Jensa
Japan Vlog 11 -TAKAYAMA - Onsen (Hot Spring) & Yukata (Kimono Experience)
Japan Vlog 11 -TAKAYAMA - Onsen (Hot Spring) & Yukata (Kimono Experience)
Published: 2016/07/07
Channel: Valentina Dang
ดูมันเที่ยว ออนเซ็นนี้สีทอง Arima Onsen - ดูมันดิ
ดูมันเที่ยว ออนเซ็นนี้สีทอง Arima Onsen - ดูมันดิ
Published: 2017/06/27
Channel: DoMunDi TV
Onsen Town! Noboribetsu, Hokkaido
Onsen Town! Noboribetsu, Hokkaido
Published: 2017/04/29
Channel: ONLY in JAPAN * GO
Best Onsen In Japan - My Favorite Place
Best Onsen In Japan - My Favorite Place
Published: 2016/08/28
Channel: MomentsWithNick
ONSEN AND RYOKAN EXPERIENCE IN JAPAN
ONSEN AND RYOKAN EXPERIENCE IN JAPAN
Published: 2016/12/12
Channel: Lil B tattoo
Hakone-One Day Trip to Private Onsen 【旅情・・】箱根一人旅
Hakone-One Day Trip to Private Onsen 【旅情・・】箱根一人旅
Published: 2016/02/10
Channel: TabiEats
VIAJE A IZU (SHIZUOKA) RYOKAN - ONSEN [La Japonidad al Palo 53]
VIAJE A IZU (SHIZUOKA) RYOKAN - ONSEN [La Japonidad al Palo 53]
Published: 2017/02/04
Channel: Japatonic TV
Japanese ONSEN in Hokkaido - 函館の温泉・岩盤浴
Japanese ONSEN in Hokkaido - 函館の温泉・岩盤浴
Published: 2015/02/18
Channel: kanadajin3
Vlog Japon : onsen et sushi, une journée relax - Osakurabana
Vlog Japon : onsen et sushi, une journée relax - Osakurabana
Published: 2016/10/30
Channel: osakurabana
NAGANO DAY 1: RYOKAN, ONSEN, MATSUMOTO CASTLE | 長野の1日目:松本城、乗鞍高原、旅館
NAGANO DAY 1: RYOKAN, ONSEN, MATSUMOTO CASTLE | 長野の1日目:松本城、乗鞍高原、旅館
Published: 2016/09/04
Channel: MaaikeInJapan
Vlog # Kita BER 4 MASUK ONSEN, SANGAT PUAS & KIMOCHII BANGET
Vlog # Kita BER 4 MASUK ONSEN, SANGAT PUAS & KIMOCHII BANGET
Published: 2016/11/19
Channel: Iro-iro channel
Japan
Japan's Most Stunning Onsen | Hot Spring
Published: 2016/10/02
Channel: Abroad in Japan
Let
Let's Relax Onsen and Spa Thonglor, the Authentic Japanese Urban Onsen
Published: 2016/11/22
Channel: Siamwellnessgroup
Esto NO te lo Debes Perder en JAPON 温泉 [By JAPANISTIC]
Esto NO te lo Debes Perder en JAPON 温泉 [By JAPANISTIC]
Published: 2014/07/24
Channel: Japanistic
COMO SON LOS ONSEN | BAÑOS PUBLICOS JAPONESES | Que hacer y no hacer | Craker en Japón
COMO SON LOS ONSEN | BAÑOS PUBLICOS JAPONESES | Que hacer y no hacer | Craker en Japón
Published: 2016/01/10
Channel: Craker
Viagem ao Japão |  Ryokan, Onsen e Monte Fuji
Viagem ao Japão | Ryokan, Onsen e Monte Fuji
Published: 2014/06/10
Channel: Juliana Goes
TRYING OUT JAPANESE ONSEN FOR THE FIRST TIME | Sunnydahye
TRYING OUT JAPANESE ONSEN FOR THE FIRST TIME | Sunnydahye
Published: 2016/10/19
Channel: sunnydahye
HIDA 飛騨 |  MON MEILLEUR ONSEN
HIDA 飛騨 | MON MEILLEUR ONSEN
Published: 2017/02/04
Channel: HidetoJP
Onsen di GiappoTour - guardate che meraviglia!
Onsen di GiappoTour - guardate che meraviglia!
Published: 2014/11/02
Channel: Marco Togni
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WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE

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Roten-buro outdoor onsen at Nakanoshima in Nachikatsuura, Wakayama
A video showcasing the stool and shower used for cleaning off, an inside pool and an outside pool.

An onsen  (温泉) is a Japanese hot spring and the bathing facilities and inns frequently situated around them. As a volcanically active country, Japan has thousands of onsens scattered throughout all of its major islands. Onsens were traditionally used as public bathing places and today play a central role in Japanese domestic tourism.

Onsens come in many types and shapes, including outdoor (露天風呂 or 野天風呂, roten-buro or noten-buro) and indoor baths. Baths may be either publicly run by a municipality or privately (内湯, uchiyu), often as part of a hotel, ryokan, or bed and breakfast (民宿, minshuku).

Onsens are a central feature of Japanese tourism, typically found in the countryside, but there are also a number of popular establishments found in major cities. They are a major tourist attraction drawing Japanese couples, families, or company groups who want to get away from the hectic life of the city to relax. Japanese often talk of the virtues of "naked communion" (裸の付き合い, hadaka no tsukiai)[1] for breaking down barriers and getting to know people in the relaxed atmosphere of a ryokan with an attached onsen. Japanese television channels often feature special programs about local onsens.

The presence of an onsen is often indicated on signs and maps by the symbol ♨ or the kanji (yu, meaning "hot water"). Sometimes the simpler hiragana character ゆ (yu), understandable to younger children, is used.

Indoor onsen at Ōfuka Onsen

Traditionally, onsens were located outdoors, although a large number of inns have now built indoor bathing facilities as well. Onsens by definition use naturally hot water from geothermally heated springs. Onsens are different from sentō, indoor public bath houses where the baths are filled with heated tap water.

The legal definition of an onsen includes the requirement that its water must contain at least one of 19 designated chemical elements, including such minerals as iron, sulfur, and metabolic acid, and have an average temperature of 25 °C (77 °F) or warmer at the point of release. Stratifications exist for waters of different temperatures. Major onsen resort hotels often feature a wide variety of themed spa baths and artificial waterfalls in the bathing area utaseyu (打たせ湯).

Onsen water is believed to have healing powers derived from its mineral content. A particular onsen may feature several different baths, each with water of a different mineral composition. The outdoor bath tubs are often made from Japanese cypress, marble, or granite, while indoor tubs may be made from tile, acrylic glass, or stainless steel. Particular onsens may also promote the special mineral composition of their waters, together with the healing properties these may have. Other services, such as massages, may also be offered.

Mixed bathing[edit]

Guidebook to Hakone from 1811

Traditionally, men and women bathed together at both onsens and sentōs, but gender separation has been enforced since the opening of Japan to the West during the Meiji Restoration. Mixed bathing (混浴, kon'yoku) persists at some special onsen in rural areas of Japan,[2] which usually also provide the option of separate "women-only" baths or different hours for the two sexes. Men may cover their genitals with a small towel while out of the water, while women usually wrap their bodies in full-size towels. Children of either sex may be seen in both the men's and the women's baths. In some prefectures of Japan, including Tokyo, where nude mixed bathing is banned, people are required to wear swimsuits or yugi (湯着, yugi), which are specifically designed for bathing.

Etiquette[edit]

Baskets

Ensuring cleanliness[edit]

At an onsen, as at a sentō, all guests are expected to wash their bodies and rinse themselves thoroughly before entering the hot water. Bathing stations are equipped with stools, faucets, wooden buckets, and toiletries such as soap and shampoo; nearly all onsen also provide removable shower heads for bathing convenience. Entering the onsen while still dirty or with traces of soap on the body is socially unacceptable.[3]

Swimsuits[edit]

Bathers are not normally allowed to wear swimsuits in the baths. However, some modern onsen with a water park atmosphere require their guests to wear a swimming suit in their mixed baths.

Towels[edit]

Onsen guests generally bring a small towel with them to use as a wash cloth. The towel can also provide a modicum of modesty when walking between the washing area and the baths. Some onsen allow one to wear the towel into the baths, while others have posted signs prohibiting this, saying that it makes it harder to clean the bath. It is sometimes against the rules to immerse or dip towels in the onsen bath water, since this can be considered unclean. In this latter case, people normally set their towels off to the side of the water when enjoying the baths, or place their folded towels on top of their heads.

Noise[edit]

Onsen vary from quiet to noisy; some play piped music and often feature gushing fountains. Bathers will engage in conversation in this relaxed situation. There are usually prohibitions against rowdiness in the washing and bathing areas. A small amount of excess energy and splashing around is usually tolerated from children, however.

Shower cubicles

Tattoos[edit]

By 2015, around half (56%) of onsen operators had banned bathers with tattoos from using their facilities.[4][5][6] The original reason for the tattoo ban was to keep out Yakuza and members of other crime gangs who traditionally have elaborate full-body decoration.[7]

However, tattoo-friendly onsen do exist.[8] A 2015 study by the Japan National Tourism Organisation found that more than 30% of onsen operators at hotels and inns across the country will not turn someone with a tattoo away; another 13% said they would grant access to a tattooed guest under certain conditions, such as having the tattoo covered up.[4]

With the increase in foreign customers due to growing tourism, some onsens that previously banned tattoos are loosening their rules to allow guests with small tattoos to enter, provided they cover their tattoos with a patch or sticking plaster.[4][9]

Therapy[edit]

The volcanic nature of Japan provides plenty of springs. When the onsen water contains distinctive minerals or chemicals, the onsen establishments typically display what type of water it is.[10]

Some examples of types of onsen include:

  • Sulphur onsen (硫黄泉, iō-sen)
  • Sodium chloride onsen (ナトリウム泉, natoriumu-sen)
  • Hydrogen carbonate onsen (炭酸泉, tansan-sen)
  • Iron onsen (鉄泉, tetsu-sen)

In Japan, onsen are said to have various medical effects.[11] Japanese people believe that a good soak in proper onsen heals aches, pains and diseases, and visit onsen as part of the treatment for such ailments as arthralgia, chronic skin diseases, diabetes, constipation, menstrual disorders, and so on.[11]

These medical benefits have given onsens a central role in balneotherapy which is called "Onsen Therapy" (温泉療法, onsen-ryōhō). Onsen Therapy is a comprehensive bathing treatment conducted to maintain health, normalize dysfunctions, and prevent illness.[11]

Risks[edit]

Although millions of Japanese bathe in onsens every year with few noticeable side effects, there are still potential side effects to onsen usage, such as high blood pressure or heart disease.[12]

Legionella bacteria have been found in some onsens with poor sanitation.[13][14] Revelations of poor sanitary practices at some onsens have led to improved regulation by hot-spring communities to maintain their reputation.[15]

There have been reports of infectious disease found in hot bodies of water worldwide, such as:

  • Various Naegleria species.[16] While studies have found the presence of Naegleria in hot spring waters, the worrisome Naegleria fowleri amoeba has not been identified.[16] Nevertheless, less than five cases have been seen historically in Japan, although not conclusively linked to onsen exposure.[17]

Many onsens display notices reminding anyone with open cuts, sores, or lesions not to bathe. Additionally, in recent years onsens are increasingly adding chlorine to their waters to prevent infection, although many onsen purists seek natural, unchlorinated onsens that do not recycle their water but instead clean the baths daily.[15] These precautions as well as proper onsen usage (i.e. not placing the head underwater, washing thoroughly before entering the bath) greatly reduce any overall risk to bathers.

Selected onsen[edit]

Old Tsuru-no-yu Bathhouse in Nyūtō Onsen area, Akita
Winter bathing at Tsuru-no-yu rotten-buro in Nyūtō, Akita
Kurokawa Onsen roten-buro in Kyushu
Japanese macaques enjoying a roten-buro open-air onsen at Jigokudani Monkey Park
Yumura-onsen's hot-spring resort and forests in Shin'onsen, Hyōgo
Dōgo Onsen hot springs (main building) in Matsuyama, Ehime
湯原温泉|ja]]), Okayama Prefecture, one of the largest mixed baths at the foot of Yubara dam

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ This term should be carefully differentiated from the word skinship (スキンシップ, sukinshippu) which refers to the benefits of physical contact, for instance, on babies by their mothers.
  2. ^ "Japan's Konyoku (mixed gender) Onsen Best 100". Konyoku.org. Retrieved January 11, 2014. 
  3. ^ In very isolated onsen, where there is no possibility to use soap before entering in the bath, onsen users are expected to at least rinse their body with the water of the bath before entering it.
  4. ^ a b c Ryall, Julian (6 November 2015). "Japanese owners of famous ‘onsen’ hot springs soften their stance on tattoo ban to appease foreign visitors". Archived from the original on 17 January 2016. 
  5. ^ Thompson, Ashley (6 November 2012). "If you need to bring drugs to Japan, sort out the paperwork — or else". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on 19 July 2015. 
  6. ^ Xeni Jardin (22 December 2009). "Tattoo in Japan". Boing Boing. Archived from the original on 24 December 2009. 
  7. ^ Onsen Warnings and Hassles, archived from the original on 24 January 2016 
  8. ^ Thompson, Ashley (27 November 2012). "Ink doesn’t always cause a stink at the onsen". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on 19 July 2015. 
  9. ^ Lund, Evie (17 April 2015). "Onsen in Nagano will now welcome foreigners with tattoos, as long as they patch ’em up". Archived from the original on 14 December 2015. 
  10. ^ Serbulea, Mihaela; Payyappallimana, Unnikrishnan. "Onsen (hot springs) in Japan—Transforming terrain into healing landscapes". ScienceDirect. doi:10.1016/j.healthplace.2012.06.020. 
  11. ^ a b c Getting into hot water for health. The Japan Times. May 25, 2003.
  12. ^ "Hot Spring Treatment|Hot Spring Encyclopedia|ONSEN|BEPPU CITY|". City.beppu.oita.jp. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  13. ^ H. Miyamoto; S. Jitsurong; R. Shiota; K. Maruta; S. Yoshida; E. Yabuuchi (1997). "Molecular determination of infection source of a sporadic Legionella pneumonia case associated with a hot spring bath". Microbiol Immunol. 41 (3): 197–202. PMID 9130230. doi:10.1111/j.1348-0421.1997.tb01190.x. 
  14. ^ Eiko Yabuuchi Kunio Agata (2004). "An outbreak of legionellosis in a new facility of hot spring Bath in Hiuga City". Kansenshogaku Zasshi. 78 (2): 90–98. ISSN 0387-5911. PMID 15103899. 
  15. ^ a b "Onsen: know what you're getting into". The Japan Times. 
  16. ^ a b Shinji Izumiyama; Kenji Yagita; Reiko Furushima-Shimogawara; Tokiko Asakura; Tatsuya Karasudani; Takuro Endō (July 2003). "Occurrence and Distribution of Naegleria Species in Thermal Waters in Japan". The Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology. 50 (s1): 514–5. PMID 14736147. doi:10.1111/j.1550-7408.2003.tb00614.x. 
  17. ^ Yasuo Sugita; Teruhiko Fujii; Itsurou Hayashi; Takachika Aoki; Toshirō Yokoyama; Minoru Morimatsu; Toshihide Fukuma; Yoshiaki Takamiya (May 1999). "Primary amebic meningoencephalitis due to Naegleria fowleri: An autopsy case in Japan". Pathology International. 49 (5): 468–70. PMID 10417693. doi:10.1046/j.1440-1827.1999.00893.x. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Hotta, Anne, and Yoko Ishiguro. A Guide to Japanese Hot Springs. New York: Kodansha America, 1986. ISBN 0-87011-720-3.
  • Fujinami, Kōichi. Hot Springs in Japan. Tokyo: Board of Tourist Industry, Japanese Government Railways; Maruzen Company, Ltd., 1936.
  • Neff, Robert. Japan's Hidden Hot Springs. Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle, 1995. ISBN 0-8048-1949-1.
  • Seki, Akihiko, and Elizabeth Heilman Brooke. The Japanese Spa: A Guide to Japan's Finest Ryokan and Onsen. Boston: Tuttle Publishing, 2005. ISBN 0-8048-3671-X. Reprinted as Ryokan: Japan's Finest Spas and Inns, 2007. ISBN 0-8048-3839-9.

External links[edit]

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