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  • Onsen culture/great onsen

    I know something that can throw a lot of people off-kilter or make them feel uncomfortable in Japan is public bathing and onsen (hot springs) culture. Of course, I've also known people who really didn't mind communal nakedness, and could follow the rules just fine. Personally, I really enjoy going to an onsen. It's as relaxing as they say it is, and I swear I noticed the improvement in my skin. To be fair, I haven't been to many yet, and I'd love to hear about people's favorite onsen, or onsen that they really want to visit. My friend went to one in Hakone (where you could wear a bathing suit) that had coffee and sake (rice wine) bathing areas!
    To start everyone off is my favorite, which was one of the onsen in Sakunami in Sendai. The scenery is beautiful, the baths weren't too crowded when I went and there were free ice lollies!

  • #2
    Japanese people love soaking into hot water, regardless of the season. They go to onsen equally in winter as well as summer.

    As far as I know, there are so many famous cities specially dedicated to onsen culture. Some of the most famous are Atami, Yuzawa-Onsen, Hakone and Yamaguchi (The famouse Yuda-onsen). It's quite astonishing that Japanese people have an image of being shy natured people. Still, they don't feel any shyness by being naked in front of unknown people in an onsen! Contradictory to that, many unofficial business meetings take place in onsens, where people open up more than traditional meeting rooms!

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    • #3
      Visiting onsen in different seasons is amazing! Even in summer, although you feel hot, then enter hot water. I prefer the contrast between cool air and the hot water, and being able to see the natural scenery in spring or autumn. Outdoor onsen are great, and it's really clever how they're situated to still be private. Not that I've ever heard of a problem with peeping-toms at onsen!

      I didn't know that business meetings happened at onsen, Anjali Payal! I've heard about them being conducted in all kinds of places, but that one's new to me. That must be an interesting experience - I can't imagine doing it myself. But in Japan what is considered "proper", if you like, is completely different, so I guess with the onsen it's not about being shy. There are rules for the onsen and that's how it is, so that's how everyone behaves in an onsen. Wearing clothes would dirty the water, and stop it from getting to your skin, so they just don't wear them. It's quite liberating how casual everyone is about it.

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      • #4
        Soaking your body in the hotsprings when the weather is cold gives you a feeling of bliss. I've read a few articles in the web that going to the onsen on a regular basis can have great health benefits. Depending on the type of onsen that you visit, your body can absorb some of the minerals present in the water which help certain part of the body (internal organs included) and is said to cure various diseases. Whether this is true or not, soaking in an onsen will definitely help relax your body and promote healing in its own way. I'd love to visit one when I go to Japan. They say that Hakone is a great place to enjoy the hotsprings so I might choose that as my destination for an onsen trip!

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        • #5
          I heard that people with tatoos are forbidden to enter or use the onsen, is that true? Their reason is that they associate tattoos to yakuzas which is an organized crime syndicates.

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          • #6
            Those are old school yakuzas. The new generation of yakuzas don't want to be immediately known as yakuza because of the large tattoos.

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            • #7
              Mashiiro I don't think that's true. Because They also forbid tattoo having people at many places like gyms, swimming pools, water parks and a lot. Besides, as Tara4Eva said, modern days yakuza looks something like these ...

              Click image for larger version

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              This picture is of Yamaguchi-gumi; the most powerful yakuza gang in Japan currently. They are very professional and work in an organized way!

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