Onsen refers to hot spring. Japan is a volcanic land, so there are more than 2,000 hot springs resorts. Onsen are a central feature of Japanese tourism often found out in the countryside.
The hot spring water can be experienced at public baths, hotels and ryokan that are traditional Japanese inns. They offer not only in-house baths, but also open-air baths called “rotenburo”. Seeing quiet and beautiful scenery from an open-air bath is very refreshing.
■ How to enjoy onsen
Generally, all Onsen has the same things in common. Onsen has separate male and female sections. After you enter your section, there is a dressing room to get undressed and store your things into a locker. The thing which you can bring in a bath area is only a small towel. The shower area is equipped with some detachable shower heads, shampoo and body soap, plastic stools and buckets. After showering, you can then proceed to the hot bath. Please be sure not to soak your towel into the bath water. This is a manner to keep the water clean.
■ Private bath
Many hotels in hot spring resort offer family bathtubs that can be used for a limited time by your party exclusively. Some require an extra fee, some others do not.
Onsen is famous for its health benefits. Hot spring water is said to be good for promotion of health and treatment of chronic disease. They include rheumatism, neuralgia, gastro-enteric disorders, respiratory disorders. Locals jokingly say that the hot springs can cure all forms of diseases except the sickness of love.
I hope you enjoy onsen during your staying in Japan. It is a fantastic experience.