ONSEN: FEATURES OF TRADITIONAL JAPANESE BATTLES
For many who come to Japan, both for Europeans and for the inhabitants of Asia, onsen is an unfamiliar territory, and people prefer to bypass it. The combination of local etiquette, the fact that complete nudity is meant (sometimes even in the presence of people of the opposite sex), as well as a much higher temperature of the water than happens mainly in the hydromassage baths we are used to – forcing travelers visiting Japan for the first time ignore onsenes, avoiding such experiences. And it is very vain, because taking baths in onsenes or on hot springs is very beneficial for health. It rejuvenates, gives a feeling of freshness and vigor, relaxes and cleanses. Onsen’s mineral waters have healing properties, being an excellent prevention of a wide range of diseases – from skin diseases to cancer, and most of the guests with pleasant surprise discover that visiting of onsen was the key moment of their trip to Japan.
We bring to your attention a few important tips that will help avoid misunderstandings and awkward situations on your first visit to onsen.
It is very important to thoroughly wash BEFORE you enter the water. This is the most important thing you need to know, except perhaps how important it is to take off all your clothes.
Most Japanese baths are equipped with separate areas for washing and small chairs to sit away from the water. In some very simple or very traditional swimming baths you will have to sit on the edge of the pool with water and draw water directly from it to rinse before diving. For such baths in the order of things, if you do not get there soap. Visiting most of the public onsenov means that you bring soap and a towel with you, and even in many more expensive and fashionable establishments you will be able to save three hundred or five hundred yen if you bring bath accessories with you. In some high-end establishments, towels, soap and other accessories are included in the cost of attendance and are issued at the entrance.
It is best to use luggage storage in order to leave there any personal belongings, valuables or documents (although cases of theft in Japan are extremely rare, it is better not to risk it).
In most onsenov forbidden to take pictures.
Take care at the entrance and exit – there are a lot of slippery surfaces in onsenes.
In many ryokans with onsenes, there is a division into male and female visiting hours, so be careful – the swimming pool you went to yesterday can be reserved today for people of the opposite sex.
Sometimes you can see how other visitors throw their towels into the water or even (oh, horror!) Unscrew them right there, but this is very offensive and rude. Always try to be as clean as possible in principle, before you go into the water, and never rinse your towel in water. Do not let the towel even touch the surface of the water. The vast majority of people prefer to put their towels on their heads during water procedures, but placing them on any stone or on the edge of the pool is also permissible. If your towel accidentally slips into the water, squeeze it outside the pool.
Never even try to cast a glance over the fence or wall to see the bathing area for the opposite sex.
Do not swim in the pool. Water is intended only for soothing soaking in it and contemplative reflections.
Coming out of the water, be sure to blot your towel with water from the skin before you go to the locker room.
Many onsenas have rooms where you can lie down and take a short nap, drink a cold beer or tea, or even get into a massage chair. Feel free to take advantage of these post-bath features!
QUESTIONS WHICH TRAVELERS ASK FOR MOST
Is onsen entry allowed if I have tattoos on my body?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions, and the answer is definitely not. “But this is just one tiny one!” Anyway, no. In Japan, it is not customary to make tattoos and often their presence (for the Japanese) somehow indicates belonging to the yakuza or gangster grouping, and this does not look cool or stylish at all. And even despite the fact that in our days it’s not necessarily all that way, and certainly not at all with foreign visitors, there is still a high probability that you will not be allowed into onsen, if you have stuffed “sleeves” or any other large, visible tattoos. Small tattoos are quite fashionable to cover with waterproof plaster. Please respect all requirements of a foreign culture. You always have the option of staying in a hotel that has “kashikiri-buro” – a private reserved pool. Nobody will see behind the locked door whether you have tattoos or not, so no one will care. Kazoku-buro – for families or any other occasion.