In the tradition of Scandinavian sauna and Turkish steam baths, the Japanese offer onsen. Not surprisingly for such a volcanic country, there are many onsen scattered around the islands. Often, a sauna is included in the complex. Contrary to Scandinavia, there is nearly always a strict separation between the male and the female section of an onsen. Therefore, what I describe here could be different for feminine visitors.
It is a good idea to bring your own towel to an onsen, as this is (in my experience) never included. In case you need one, they can be rented though. After leaving your shoes outside entering your section, you directly come to the place where you can leave your clothes. Huge cupboards with compartments where you can take a basket to leave behind your belongings and clothes. From here on, you are supposed to walk around in your bare self. Japanese males often try to hide their reproductive equipment by hiding behind their small towels.
After going through a door the first thing to do is to take a shower for which a separate room is dedicated. You sit down on a plastic stool, there is a shower right above you and often a bucket which you can fill with water. Bath gel and shampoo for every single shower. You can then enter the hot bath (sometimes there are several hot baths with different temperatures); try before because the water is sometimes very hot! After you have sweated off your body liquids, you can cool down in the cold water tub. And this can be repeated as many times as you want.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Onsen (Japan). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Onsen.
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