Experiences - Asia

Onsen – Japanese Hot Spring

How would you like to soak yourself into a Japanese hot spring and emerge out of it feeling refreshed and rejuvenated? Well, the land of active volcanoes has just that to offer. Japanese Onsen, are public baths with water sourced from the natural hot springs which are rich in minerals and salts.

It’s a wonderful experience that you could possibly not miss when you visit Japan. Although it’s quite unfamiliar to many visitors the onsen is famous in the Ryokan that are part of hotels and most of them belong to them.

Onsen - Japanese Hot Spring

Image Courtesy: bobthemagicdragon used under the Creative Commons Licence

The water from the springs have minerals that are dissolved in it which provide great health benefits with a calm and relaxing effect on your mind and body. In fact, the Onsen waters are known to have healing qualities and are believed to heal pains and diseases including acute skin conditions to cancer, diabetes and menstrual problems. These medical benefits have given onsen a special role called “Onsen Therapy”, a comprehensive bathing treatment conducted to maintain health, reduce dysfunctions and prevent illness.

These onsens come in different varieties ranging from indoor, outdoor, gender separated or mixed depending on the region but most of them are safe. Some of the most common onsen include Sulphur onsen, Sodium chloride onsen, Hydrogen carbonate onsen and Iron onsen.


Here are some simple rules and bathing etiquettes that you need to follow while entering an Onsen:

Make sure you carry soap, shampoo, washcloth and a towel (although most onsen provide one)

Leave your footwear at the place provided for the same.

As you enter the changing room, leave your belongings in the baskets provided or in the lockers (which may come with an extra charge) and shed your clothes and inhibitions about nudity.

japanese onsen

Image Courtesy: David McKelvey used under the Creative Commons Licence

Before you enter the onsen, clean yourself and have a bath. The onsens are meant only for soaking and not cleaning. The only thing you will be allowed to carry to the onsen is your washcloth.

You must test the waters before you get in as they could be warm, or incredibly hot, and absolutely freezing sometimes.

Read the instructions posted on the walls in most onsens before you enter them.

There are many varieties of onsens in Japan, which include waterfalls as well. The prices can vary from 200 yen to 2000 yen.

The best time to visit a hot spring ryokan is during winter, fall or early spring. You may want to avoid visiting the onsen during weekends in spring, as most of them are crowded. It is better to avoid onsens during the holiday season as it is jam-packed with visitors and could be overpriced.
So rejuvenate, relax and refresh yourself with these hot springs. Happy bathing!

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