Onsens in Japan

By | March 9, 2018

I went to Japan 3 times. I discovered the onsen at the very beginning of my first trip. After that, I was hooked; I tried to go to onsens as often as possible.

Japanese onsen is a great place for relaxing and for soothing tired muscles.

I visited many fantastic onsens in Japan

My first trip to the onsen was an eye-opening experience. It was in a small town in Tokyo suburbs. As soon as I entered, I had to take my shoes off – the Japanese people do not walk in street shoes inside their houses, schools or spas.

I went into women’s section where I had to wash myself sitting on a small plastic stool, lathering my body and rinsing it from a small basin. After that, I tried different kinds of baths: boiling, medium hot, and even outside pools with hot water. This provincial onsen had, probably 10 or 12 different types of baths.

After all this soaking I put my swimsuit on and walked to the co-ed swimming pool. Just like in the baths, everything was immaculate. In the pool, people have to wear swim caps.  If you do not have your own, they will let you borrow a sterilized one. After swimming, I sat for a few minutes in the sauna and then, after a refreshing shower, I went to the steam room.

And how about that: if you want to use the restroom, you can not wear your sleepers, you must wear “toilet” sleepers which are waiting for you at the entrance to the bathroom.

After I had finished with all “water” activities, I decided to have shiatsu massage. I had to pay extra for massage. Did I mention that entrance fee to this onsen was $4? It was at the end of December, and when I went to the same place on January 2, the price was 25{5ac18ef5c0a0a5bf7fd9603d93dd6afaaafb39abafb8ad2978dc6b95097c5ef0} higher. But I wasn’t outraged; now it was $5.

Before going for a massage, everyone must wear a “walking around” outfit – pants and loose shirt – one color for men and another for women. I had a male masseur who did not speak a word of English. However, he managed to find all my aching spots. He worked on them until they were not painful anymore. The price was about $10. And this is in “expensive” Japan!

In the open-air onsen you can relax and enjoy nature at the same time.

Open-air onsen fed by hot spring

On my next trip to this onsen, I decided to try facial. The price was quite low, about $12. I was worked on by a 14-year-old girl. Of course, she was a grown woman, but she looked like 14. She did not speak English but had fingers as gentle as feathers. In the background, I heard Elvis singing his most famous songs. It felt unreal– to have facial in Japan while listening to Elvis.

Here are the prices for my two trips to this onsen: first time $4 for bath + $10 for massage; second time $5 for bath + $12 for facial. Try to get it for this amount back home!

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