Bathing hot springs like onsen, sento is undoubtedly one of the places very 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 the spa. There are some rules on how to act inside an onsen or sento. For that we created this article giving some tips and tutorials on how to perform this bath without embarrassing yourself.
You 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 inside an onsen:
- Should wash the body before entering the water;
- Do not disturb others or swim in the water;
- Women with long hair should fasten;
- Do not put the towel in the water (some places allowitem);
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 in with shoes on these floors is a great reason for embarrassment. There will always be a place for you to take off your shoes before entering the locker room or even the venue;
- Don't get in the wrong bath – Bathrooms are usually divided into sex, most of the time the female bath is represented by the red towel with the kanji for woman (女) and the male bath will be represented by the blue towel and the kanji for man (男);
- Take off your clothes – Virtually all onsen prohibits entering the bath with clothes. So don't be ashamed to be naked around others. Take off your clothes and place them in the baskets or lockers provided. The only thing you can take with you to the onsen is a small towel, which should not get wet and can be placed over your head;
- shower first – No onsen allows you to enter the bath without washing first. Some provide a stool with a shower head. Others you will find a bucket with
- Tattoo – In Japan some places prohibit entry with a tattoo. You should try to find a place that allows entry with it, or if it's small, try to hide it in some way. I don't recommend it, it can cause problems;
Of course there are slight differences in the rules from onsen to onsen. They are often affixed to walls in Japanese. See what people do to imitate them.
Tips for bathing in hot springs
- Consume large amounts of water before taking a shower. You can avoid dehydration and sweating because of the heat of the spa;
- 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, then gradually warm up the rest of your body. (Blood pressure is usually highest before showering.)
- when leaving the bath ssimply drying with a towel will suffice. 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;
The importance of impressing
In the 1990s foreign sailors drunk caused some problems at several onsen in a port city in Hokkaido. The onsen responded by banning all foreigners from entering. This ended up causing turmoil across Japan, and some foreigners found such policies racist.
But that's in the past, and the Japanese like to see foreign visitors visiting the onsen and learning about their culture. These rules of etiquette will help you impress the locals and not embarrass or cause trouble.