How to Onsen
Don’t come to Japan expecting a big après scene and pumping nightclubs.But what they do well, are Onsens which translates to hot springs. Onsen’s are a fantastic way to wind-down from a hard day of skiing and offer a great insight into Japanese culture and tradition.
You have to get your nude on. Nudity is a must at pretty much all onsens so get used to the idea. Most onsens will let you use a wee modesty towel while walking to and from the onsen. Which you shouldn’t really put in the water pop it on the edge of the pool or on your head to stay cool as some of the onsens are hot as buggery.
The onsen is a quiet, respectful, meditative place, for the Japanese. Traditionally, Japanese men and women bathed together without clothes, but these days this is rare. Mostly, there are male and female onsens so dont worry about that. We have two private small Japanese baths at the hut if you cant be bothered leaving the hut.
Rules vary but the following are often banned: shoes, cameras, phones, tattoos, mucking around .In the past tattoos were banned because they are associated with Japan’s criminal underworld. This rule is increasingly overlooked in tourist ski areas towns. On arrival, you are expected to wash thoroughly before entering an onsen.
Most bathing stations provide shampoos and toiletries or they are available in a vending machine. If you do take a modesty towel into the onsen, it’s considered rude to dip it in the water.
The health benefits of onsens date back hundreds of years to when Samurai warriors used them to recover from battles. The mineral-rich water is said to help people recover from surgeries. Also used to control rheumatism, neuralgia, hypertension and skin diseases among many other ailments. Different hot springs have different mineral compositions and locals will travel far and wide to get the benefits they require.Take what you want from that I know from my experience I feel pretty bloody good after an onsen.