Everyone knows that Japan is the land of hot springs and baths. But did you know that there are so many ways and styles to enjoy them? Here are some of the different ways to enjoy baths in Japan so please try to experience Japan’s unique bath culture.
Go to a hot spring area
There are about 3,000 onsen (hot spring) areas spread across Japan, from Hokkaido to Kyushu. When you go to these hot spring areas, you will get to enjoy the hot springs at public hot springs, Japanese-style inns, hotels and other sites. Onsen towns that are lined with lodging facilities, hot spring areas, restaurants, souvenir shops, arcades and other facilities have also been built, letting guests immerse in the atmosphere of Japan’s onsen town at a famous hot spring area.
Things to Know Before Getting Into an Onsen! Types of Hot Springs and Their Effects >
Try public baths
There have long been many public bathhouses called “sento” in various areas in Japan, especially in residential communities. They usually use regular hot water in these places, but sometimes, you will also see public baths that use water from hot springs. With entrance fees ranging from 350 JPY to 470 JPY (varies depending on the city or prefecture), these spots have become an oasis for locals. Over the recent years, a diverse lot of public baths have also emerged, including those that feature saunas and rock bath units, and those that have a modern design.
Knowing this will give you peace of mind even if it’s your first time! Etiquette Regarding Japanese Public Bathhouses >
Enjoy at a spa
Public bathhouses are not the only facilities in Japan that use water from hot springs, as many spas in the country that feature bathing facilities that are annexed to saunas, rock baths, massage facilities, restaurants, cafes and relaxation rooms also use hot spring water. If you go to these places, you will be charged roughly 2,000 JPY to 2,700 JPY, but that will already give you free access to the facilities for one whole day. You can even use some of these facilities until the next morning at an extra charge. Now these places have no private rooms, but they have relaxation rooms equipped with reclining chairs with TV that you can use if you want to sleep. Spas are recommended because they will give you a taste of a trip to a hot springs at an affordable cost.
Head out to secluded hot springs
Many people prefer to go to Japanese-style inns and hotels in hot spring areas to enjoy soaking in hot spring baths, but there is a certain charm to bathing in a secluded hot spring that is surrounded by nature even though it takes a lot of time to get there. The atmosphere of a secluded hot spring varies depending on the place, so the feeling you get will be different if you go to a wild hot spring that is difficult to reach for onsen amateurs and which has no dressing area, or a hot spring deep in the mountains that will require you to walk for more than an hour, or a hot spring that is adjoined to a river. Now if you want to go to these secluded hot springs, you might want to start by going to those spots that are relatively easy to reach for amateurs.
Bring the hot spring to your home or hotel
You may be one of those people who come to Japan but is unfortunately unable to find the time to soak in a hot spring due to your very busy schedule. Well, don’t fret. You can enjoy hot spring in no time just by buying “yunohana” (hot spring mineral deposits) or a pack of bath powder that is combined with yunohana from any onsen area or drugstore, and then adding the bath powder to the hot water in the bathtub at your hotel or home. You will get the same effect as when you are in a hot spring. Yunohana are insoluble components from hot springs that have been deposited or have settled in the water. While their composition varies depending on the quality of the hot spring water, they mainly contain sulfur, calcium and magnesium. They are also perfect for souvenir.
※Please note that yunohana that only contains sulfur and metal sulfides may damage your bathtub, so be careful when using it.
Enjoying hot springs in many different ways
In Japan, when people go to the hot springs, they generally sit in the bath and soak in the hot water that has accumulated in it. However, here are various other ways to enjoy hot springs.
There are baths that are only for soaking your feet, and you will find a lot of them at street corners in onsen towns. You won’t need to take off your clothes in these places because it’s only for your feet, so you can relax and enjoy the hot spring at any time without getting dizzy.
With this bath, you have to lie on your back in shallow hot spring water. You can relax and soak for a long time.
Utaseyu (waterfall shower)
With this bath, large amounts of hot water are released from a water gate or sprue that is installed at a high place, and you have to stand or sit underneath the place where the water will come down and let the water hit your body. The pressure of the hot water will feel like you are being massaged.
Here, you get inside a rather deep hot spring bath and stay standing in the water. The strong pressure of the water promotes blood circulation.
A bedrock bath is a kind of sauna-type bath that promotes sweating by having you lay on top of a bed made of hot natural stones and rocks. There is a natural bath like this in Tamagawa Onsen (Akita).
Sunayu (sand bath)
Also known as “sunamushi” and “sunaburo,” a “sunayu” (sand bath) is an onsen therapy that uses the heat from the hot spring. Here, a hole is dug in sand at the coast and you have to lie down in that hole while wearing a yukata (light summer kimono) and then have your body covered in sand from the neck down, with only your face exposed. Ibusuki Onsen (Kagoshima) is famous for this.
A mud bath is a type of onsen where the top part is smooth hot water, but you enter the bath while getting wrapped in mudpack by the natural mud that has accumulated at the base of the bath. The condition of the mud at hot springs varies depending on the hot spring, but they are all rich in hot spring components.
If you come to Japan, please enjoy the wonderful baths!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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