Onsen trip

Dec 1, 2010

Onsen is a Japanese term for hot spring. Some people would call it Japanese spa. Japanese love to soak themselves in hot tubs. Since it's difficult to enjoy onsen every day, it is a norm for Japanese to soak in hot tub after a good shower every night, at home. They may soak in the bathtub alone or sometimes with the family members. I find this good because it is a good opportunity for busy parents to interact with their kids and get to know what's happening in the kids daily life.

Enjoying hot tub with family members...

As you would imagine, the Japanese are quite OK letting their children see them naked and the kids are quite used to seeing naked parents because they were brought up that way ever since they were babies.

A baby enjoying hot tub with mommy or daddy

Even monkeys know how to enjoy onsen!

So, in case you are interested to come to Japan and explore the onsen, below are some pointers on how to enjoy onsen or public bath in Japan.

1. Make sure you clean your body thoroughly using the facility provided before entering the onsen. This is also a chance for the body to gradually get used to the hot temperature of the onsen, which is usually around 42 degree celcius. A drastic increase of temperature is bad for the health and can be harmful instead.

2. Now you can soak yourself in the onsen. Make sure you don't wear anything. Not even swimming suits or undies! About the duration, some people think that it is good to soak as long as possible. This is not the case. When you feel yourself starting to perspire, and that the sweat starting to roll down from your forehead, it's about time to stop yourself from soaking. Some people soak for 20 minutes. Some people soak for 10 minutes. It depends on the individual. But you can take a rest and use some other facilities like cold tub or sauna then soak for the second or third time if you want.

3. After soaking, make sure you do not take shower. This would wash off the active ingredient which is included in the onsen that is supposedly be good for the health. When you wipe your body, do not wipe too hard too cause that would brush off the ingredients that had been absorded to the skin. You would like to get the maximum effect from the soaking wouldn't you?

4. After you are out from the onsen, make sure you hydrate yourself since you had lost a lot of fluid by perspiration during the soaking.

It takes about 30 minutes before you are back to your normal self. Well, a lot of energy is lost during the soaking. So, make sure you take plenty of rest before you drive and start your journey back.

So, why suddenly lessons on onsen?
Haha...it's because we just went to onsen last weekend! The place that we went to was not too far from our home. It was about 30-min trip by car.

Kamiyama onsen with ryokan (Japanese-style hotel)
We didn't stay at the hotel, we only used the onsen facility which was opened for the public

These Japanese characters literally mean: Good onsen heals the soul

Fee per entry: 600yen for adults and 300 yen for kids

The key for storing our shoes

Make sure you don't enter wrongly! In this particular onsen, the entrance with blue curtain and Japanese character 男 is for male and the red curtain with Japanese character 女 is for female

Sorry guys, no cameras are allowed in the onsen.
Besides there is no way we would show photos of us soaking in onsen! *wink* Oh, a reminder, do not stare at other people when you enter the onsen. Mind your own business ok. Actually no one would really care if you were fat, thin, old, saggy or pretty. Everyone just wants to enjoy the hot tub and feels good about it. It might be awkward at first, but just make that 'blur' face and you will surely be accepted as one of them...:)

We spent about 40 minutes in the onsen (which included the shower time and etc...). After finished with the soaking, we ended up being quite dehydrated, as expected. So it's time to rehydrate ourselves! Don't worry, we had plenty of choices to choose from!

Fancy anything from here?

You get to choose hot drinks (buttons in red) and cold drinks (buttons in blue)

Choices vary from carbonated drinks, fruit juice, chilled tea/coffee to hot tea/coffee

Some Japanese may fancy beer

Some people might want to have something heavier like ice-cream

Traditionally Japanese people drink milk or milk coffee after hot-spring

And somehow three of us love that tradition! It was just simply oishii!! It is highly recommended!

While waiting to recover fully, you can choose to play games too!

Which Sya always enjoys after a good hot tub

Looking fresh after soaking in onsen!

Refreshing our eyes watching the nature...

We bought the hungry Sya a baked sweet potato before heading home...


Cat-in-Sydney said...

Aunty Nana,
Aaaahhh...onsen. Super! My Mama spent sometime in Matsuyama (Shikoku) on a student exchange programme many many moons ago and that place she said is full of natural spas. Try to get a classic book - Botchan - based on life there. Nostalgia coming now.... purrr...meow!

Nana said...

Hi Cat-in-Sydney!
Oh dear, your mama sure went to really good onsen! Dogo onsen in Matsuyama is said to be the oldest onsen in Japan. An emperor was said to enjoy the onsen 1600 years ago (I hope I got it right...). Whatever it is, the onsen village is surely historical! We would like to make a trip there in a few months time since we are also from Shikoku! It's only 3 hours by car!
It's always a pleasure to have a cat dropping by...:)

Cat-in-Sydney said...

Aunty Nana,
Oh dear...very nostalgic indeed. There's the tobeyaki factory she visited in Tobe, a humongous garden where they gave you a passport to be "chopped" at each point you visit, an old castle in Matsuyama....that's also where she learned to appreciate and write haiku... Obasa-san and family lived in Tobe, but has lost contact many many years ago. Things must have changed a lot since 25 years ago.... purrrr....meow!

Nana said...

Ohh...please tell your mama a lot has changed in 25 years! Even for us, who came back after five years prior to our first visit (we were here from 1994~2000)felt the change tremendously! Some old tradition remained the same but the modern things become more modern! :)

The Bubur Caca Lover said...

Guess what? I have never been to an onsen before walaupun dah 3 kali jejak kaki di nihon. I was thinking of going the other day. Teringin nak pergi kalau pergi Nikko...had to cancel the plan coz hubby kena pegi outstation. Tapi yang pastinya, kalau pergi onsen we would definitely opt for the family bath sbb both hubby and I adalah makhluk tuhan yang paling pemalu. tehehe ~

Nana said...

Maz, go for it! The price for family bath is quite OK too. And it's really good for the skin! The secret to beautiful skin among the Japanese has got to be this! Bestnya Nikko Maz...it's famous. Since it's near from your place, should not miss the next chance. Insyaallah u will like it! :)

Anonymous said...

Uhmm.. uhmm.. I'm totally OCD about stuff like this so really, I doubt if I'd ever survive an onsen without obsessing over 101 things.

Nana said...

Hi Andrea! Don't worry, you'll definitely feel better when women in their 60s, 70s and 80s strolling around, taking their time to take shower and scrub their skin profusely (every inch of the skin...you know what I mean? I chose not to say here...hahaha). If they don't feel shy about it...why should we? Then, you'll instantly feel so much better!

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Nana, love the pics. When I was there few times, I took a pass going into those hot spring baths....joining others together. No way....love my privacy, ha ha.

Wow! The pics are really beautiful.....and you very fortunate enjoying all these experiences.
Have fun, Nana.....don't get overcooked, ha ha, Lee.

Nana said...

Hi Lee.
Haha...I understand what you mean.
I too, feel shy in the presence of people I know. As you said, love my privacy. My Japanese friends had asked me to join them many times but I politely declined. hihihi...I am still shy about that.So, an onsen date for me is still a big no no! hahaha.
Thanks Lee for the nice compliment. Yeah, I can't be more grateful about this. I try to enjoy what is given to me. Haha...I have heard some men are worried of being 'overcooked'. But it seems they are all alright! *wink*

TK said...

I am actually now in Bandung. There are 5 volcanoes nearby. Kami pegi onsen jugak 2 days ago. Bestkan mandi air panas yg natural gitu especially when the weather is cold.
Wah..i tertarik sgt dgn aiskrim kat vending machine tu..!!

Nana said...

Hi TK!
Thanks for taking time to read my blog even you are busy traveling. I really appreciate it.
Wah...kat Bandung ya? Then I am looking forward to your post soon! Best kan onsen? Enjoy it! The substance in the onsen is good for health. In Japan, they will tell you what health condition will benefit from the onsen. And each onsen is different.
Haha...ice-cream ya. Kat Malaysia ada tak vending machine utk ice-cream? Kat sini siap ada vending machine utk fried potatoes and fried chicken. Haha...can you believe that?

I amsterdam said...

I tak pernah jejak kaki kat nihon, onsen pun tak pernah dengar :)

I wonder how Sya enjoyed his onsen. Err... did he stare ???? Ha..ha..ha..

Nana said...

Hi I amsterdam!

Sape yang duduk kat Jepun mesti tahu pasal onsen. It's one main part of their culture. :)
About Sya, he goes to the male side of onsen with daddy (which in Japanese case, most of the kids below 7 follow the mommy). Maknya sebenarnya malu-malu lagi! hihihi...
My hubby said it's only recently that he would go into the onsen pool and sat there for a period of time. Previously he wouldn't join. He went in with father but just played with the shower, which is very near to the onsen pool. I suppose the water was a little too warm for him. But now he's getting better at it! :)

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