A Guide To Japanese Onsen Etiquette
Onsen or Hot Springs are immensely popular with the inhabitants of Japan. With plenty of volcanic activity in the country, this has allowed for thousands of naturally occurring hot springs to appear around the island. Both indoor and outdoor, man made or natural, there are many health benefits to soaking in these mineral rich waters. If you plan on visiting one, here are some customs to adhere to.
Leave Your Swimsuit Behind
Enjoying a dip in hot springs should be done in the nude. Towels are provided however these should never be used when in the water, they are either left behind in lockers or can be placed on your head. Whilst most onsen’s have been gender segregated since 1868, there are some that allow mixed genders and these sometimes require swimsuits.
Always Shower Before
Before entering the onsen, there is typically an area in which you can shower and make sure you are all clean. It is considered very disrespectful to not cleanse yourself before entering the bath. It is equally offensive to enter when you still have any soap or bubbles on you, so always take care before you entering the hot spring.
A place for relaxation, there should be no splashing or loud talking when in an onsen. Be mindful of your actions and the level of noise you create. Often there is soft music playing in the background and not much else.
Check Their Policy On Tattoos
Some facilities do not welcome tattoos on display. Whilst some can are be covered, larger pieces of ink may warrant use of a private room instead. The original reason for banning tattoos was because of the links to Japanese crime groups. However now a days establishments are a lot more lenient with clients, but it is always good to check before hand!