Manners and Guides When Going to Onsens

27 April 2021 0 By John K.
Manners and Guides When Going to Onsens

When we hear the word “Onsen”, we most likely think about Japan. Indeed, Onsens are Japan’s best facilities for bathing and relaxing, and are generally located in a traditional room. These hot springs are probably part of the bucket list for many people. That said, before visiting an Onsen, it’s important to know the manners and the things that you should avoid doing while being there.

Things You Should Not Do in Onsens

Before soaking yourself in an Onsen, there are 8 major simple rules you must know:

Take your shoes off

This rule is applied universally in Japan and any hot spring facilities. Usually, many businesses require you to take off your shoes at the entrance. Don’t worry, most Onsens have lockers or shoe boxes where you can safely store them. After that, you can put the slippers on. They are mostly found right next to the shoe lockers.

Notice the gender sign

In Japan, the Onsens are divided by gender. Thus, it is very important to notice the sign before going in. It is usually easily distinguishable; for women, there will be a red curtain with kanji for women (女), and for men, there will be a blue curtain with kanji for men (男). However, there are also a few mixed-gender Onsens, but they are rare.

Do not be afraid of being naked

Of course, most of the time when you go to Onsens, you may be naked! However, for the few mixed-gender Onsens, men usually put their towels around their most intimate parts, and women can wrap the towel around themselves. When you’re ready to go in, you will see a dressing room where you take off your clothes. There will be a basket or locker to put your belongings in as well. You can bring a face towel with you if you want.

Clean your body before entering

Before enjoying your time in the hot spring, you should wash your body first. Normally, there are showers with shampoo, conditioner, and body soap, provided for your convenience. After thoroughly washing your body, you should put everything back the way it was. If you got pretty long hair, tie it up so it doesn’t go in the water!

Do not soak yourself in the hot water for too long

To prevent getting overheated, you should not stay in the hot water for too long. You’ll probably get hot and dizzy. If you feel overheated, you can cool down in the cold water bath that most facilities provide.

Dry your body before entering the dressing room

After you are done soaking in the Onsen, you should dry your body with a face towel before going to the dressing room. You could even shower again, but most Japanese do not as they want to appreciate the healing power of the Onsen water. In the dressing room, you can dry yourself completely with a larger towel. Most Onsens provide free facial cleansers, toners, and hair dryers.

Do not use your common sense here

In the Onsens, you should not jump into the water and swim. Also, do not bring food and beverages with you. Next, you should not smoke in there, and should not enter if you are drunk. You should not talk loudly and stare at others. Lastly, the most important thing is that you can’t bring the camera nor your phone inside.

Do not enter if you have tattoos

This issue is believed to have a long way back to the mafia and yakuza who usually have tattoos. Therefore, people who have tattoos are prohibited to enter. However, there is no problem with the small tattoos if you can cover them up with makeup.

Guidelines to Onsen

Here are a few tips in order to have the best experience possible on your next Onsen visit:

  • When staying at an Onsen resort, you might see people wearing traditional clothes like the yakata. In general, the resort will provide them to the guests. You can walk around inside the hotel while wearing traditional clothes and slippers.
  • You might want to bring your towel, or you can buy it on the spot if you don’t have one handy. You can also bring your own drinks and skincare products, and leave them in your locker. And finally, do not forget to bring 100 yen coins with you for the coin lockers, vending machines, etc.
  • If you feel worried about whether you should shave before going to an Onsen or not, then here’s your answer! For men, it is normal to stay completely unshaved, but you should note that Japanese men are not that hairy in the first place. For women, they are not supposed to have hairs on armpits, legs, and arms. They often shave or wax, that said, it is unusual for them to shave all of their pubic hairs.
  • For women who are on their periods, you are not supposed to go to Onsens. If you cannot postpone your visit, there are menstrual cups and special tampons provided at spas. That is probably your only option if you are comfortable using them.