Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Onsen (hot springs)

Even though there still isn't any snow outside here in tokyo, it's cold! And this is the best time to enjoy hot springs. There are many onsen (hot springs) in Japan and they have been enjoyed by many for a long period of time. For those who are not familiar with onsen, here is some step-by-step tutorial.

1) Get naked - Usually, Japanese onsen are enjoyed naked. No swimsuits. You can, however, bring in a small towel provided by the accommodation where you are staying, or one of your own. Remember, do not soak the towel into the bathing water.

2) Quick shower - Go to one of the stools and quickly rinse your body before entering onsen.

3) Warm the body - Get into onsen for the first time to warm your body. Usually, onsen water is very hot (around 44 degrees Celsius), so be careful when entering.

4) Clean it up - After you are warmed up, get out of the spring and wash your body again. Shampoo your hair if needed. When rinsing yourself, be very careful to rinse away all the soap suds from your body. In Japanese custom, no soap residue should wash into the bathing water.

5) Enjoy the bath - Bath again in the hot spring. But this time, don't just soak to warm up, enjoy the view and the scene you can see from the hot spring, and relax in it. You can also repeat bathing in the different hot springs.

6) Keep the good - Another clean-up is not necessary when you finish the bath. Onsen contain many minerals, and if you rinse them off, you will not be able to benefit from their continued good effects. However, if you have sensitive skin, it might be better to rinse them off.

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