How to bathe in Japan's Hot Springs

Bathing hot springs like onsen, Sento is undoubtedly one of the most sought after by tourists and highly valued by the Japanese. Inexperienced people may have difficulties if it is the first time in the bathroom or in the thermal bath. There are some rules for how to act within an onsen or seat. For this we created this article giving some tips and tutorials on how to perform this bath without shame.

The onsen (温泉) are natural volcanic hot springs that are appreciated and help to relax, bringing numerous health benefits. We have previously written an article talking in detail about the Onsen in Japan.


Basic rules for entering an onsen

There are some basic rules to follow within an onsen:

  • You must wash your body before entering the water;
  • Do not disturb others, nor swim in the water;
  • Women with long hair must hold;
  • The towel should not be placed in the water (some places allow);
How to bathe in Japan's Hot Springs

There are also some important rules and factors that you should not forget:

  • Take off the shoes - Onsen always have traditional floors (tatami) in the changing rooms, walking with shoes on these floors is a big shame. There will always be a place for you to take your shoes off before entering the locker room or even the place;
  • Don't get in the wrong bath - The bathrooms are usually divided into sex, in most cases the female bath is represented by the red towel with the woman's kanji (女) and the male one will be represented by the blue towel and the man's kanji (男);
  • Remove your clothes - Virtually all onsen prohibits entering the bath with clothing. So don't be shy about being naked around others. Take your clothes off and place them in the baskets or cabinets provided. The only thing you can take with you to the onsen is a small towel, which should not be wet and can be placed over your head;
  • Shower first - No onsen allows you to enter the bath without washing yourself first. Some provide a stool with shower. Others you will find a bucket with
  • Tattoo - In Japan, some places prohibit entry with a tattoo. You should try to find a location that allows entry with it, or if it is small, try to hide it in some way. I don't recommend it can cause problems;

Of course, there are slight differences in the onsen to onsen rules. They are usually attached to the walls in Japanese. See what people do to imitate them.

How to bathe in Japan's Hot Springs

Tips for bathing in the hot springs

  • Consume large amounts of water before taking a shower. You can avoid dehydration and sweating because of the thermal heat;
  • Before entering the bath rinse your body to get used to the temperature. During the cold season, start by warming your hands and feet first, and then gradually warm the rest of your body. (Blood pressure is usually higher before bathing.)
  • Upon leaving the bath ssimply drying with a towel will be sufficient. The sodium content will preserve the skin's natural moisture. But take it easy. 
  • After the shower you will feel relaxed, but your body is tired, so it is recommended that you rest for 30 to 60 minutes, stay hydrated and enjoy a good meal;
How to bathe in Japan's Hot Springs

The importance of impressing

In the 1990s foreign sailors drunk caused some problems in several onsen in a port city of Hokkaido. The onsen responded by forbidding all foreigners to enter. This ended up causing turmoil across Japan, and some foreigners found such policies racist.

But that is in the past, and the Japanese like to see foreign visitors visiting onsen and learning their culture. These etiquette rules will help you to impress the inhabitants and not be embarrassed or cause confusion.