Friday, January 13, 2017

Onsen etiquette

There will be no nudie pictures in this post, don't worry!

Onsens are Japanese hot springs or spas - the big difference from what we're used to in this part of the world is that you are required not to wear any clothes. No bikinis, no knickers, no bra. No need even to modestly hold a towel in front of you!

I thought it would take a little getting used to. But after one session, I was an expert! Thanks to my good friend Shinobu who thought it was the most natural thing in the world to go to an onsen with a friend! So that's the best advice I can give you: bring a friend who knows the ropes with you the first time you try an onsen (even if the idea is a bit scary). And also, remember to wash and rinse thoroughly before entering the hot baths.

Japanese onsens are said to be good for you, a bit like taking the waters, as the hot waters are of volcanic origin and contain a variety of minerals. I didn't feel different. I didn't glow. But it was fun, and very relaxing. Although, careful if you suffer from high blood pressure. Don't stay in the hot water for too long.

One of the best things about onsens is that they often have both an indoor pool and outdoor baths. So you can experience the coolness of the air and the heat of the water at the same time.

Onsens nowadays are segregated, so you can't go in with your husband, unless the place you go to has private baths. Which our ryokan in Hida-Furukawa, Yatsusankan, did. So, now that I was an expert, I got BB to try it out too.

And I even went to the onsen in our ryokan on my own the following morning. Now that I knew the ropes, it was no big deal. It wasn't busy. And the ladies who were there already had a few words of English to make me feel welcome. And an elderly lady even started chatting to me in the changing rooms, engaging me in full conversation in Japanese. Not that I understood much of what she said. But enough to get by and keep everyone happy. Remember, smile a lot. And don't stare.

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