This past weekend I visited my first Onsen (natural hot water bath) .  I loved it and would highly recommend it if visiting Japan.  Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Take your shoes off as soon as you enter the Onsen.  You should see lockers or a place for your shoes.
  2. There will be separate areas for men and women – watch for the signs
  3. Know the rules if you have a tattoo. If the Onsen caters to tourist it may be ok.  Or if your tattoo is small and you can easily cover it with a band aide then it should not be an issue (this is what I did).  Otherwise, look for signs to know if tattoos are allowed.
  4. You are naked – get over it.
  5. A small towel is allowed – about the size of a hand towel. You can rent one there if you want (mine was less than $1)
  6. Wash thoroughly before entering the Onsen. And if you have long hair, put it up before entering the bath.
  7. Many Onsen’s also offer a massage or scrub. I loved the scrub and found it similar to a Turkish hamman scrub.  Very little feels better than feeling years of dead skin come off your body!
  8. Make sure you stay hydrated!

Onsen’s are believed to be healing.  Regardless, they are very relaxing and usually in a beautiful setting.

Watch those around you and you will be fine!

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