Onsens go back to the dawn of time, and in Japan are synonymous with both relaxation and friendliness. A place where you can totally relax for a period of time.
Onsen refers to the hot baths that Japan has lots of, since the archipelago is a volcanic land teeming with a lot of hot springs, which feed these places frequented by people of all ages from all walks of life.
Everyone : both men and women, children as well as adults, goes to the Onsen for the well-being that these hot baths provide for the mind and body.
Whether indoors or outdoors, onsens all work on the same principle : a mineralized volcanic spring feeding one or several baths at a temperature between 41 and 42°.
These hot springs, rich in sulphur, sodium chloride, hydrogen carbonate, and iron, are considered therapeutic and many Japanese people go there to treat ailments and chill out in the soothing atmosphere.
However above all, the onsen represents a pleasant interlude from an often hectic and pressurised daily life. Time spent in the hot bath is a real break, deep relaxation coupled with the sense that you are zoned out, nothing exists around you and that you have left your cares and troubles far behind.
The use of onsens is very ritualised for the Japanese, and it is important for us Europeans to discover these rules before visiting them for the first time.
The key to solving the mystery begins on entering the onsen; firstly you must remove your shoes and put them in the compartment provided before heading to the changing rooms.
Here, more becomes apparent : for you must undress fully – nudity is compulsory – and leaving your things in the compartment take the small towel with you. The next step is the shower area near the baths, so as to be completely clean before finally entering the water. This should be done cautiously, since the temperature exceeds 40°; hence care must be taken to avoid thermal shock.
Once in the water, relax and do not think about anything except the benefits provided by the heat, while ensuring that you hydrate yourself regularly. Very often, you can also enjoy the sauna integrated with the onsen.
The last recommendation during your first visit, is do not stay in the water or the sauna too long, unless you cool off regularly with a shower. And do not rinse before leaving, so as to enjoy the water’s benefits for longer.
At the end of your visit, you will understand why the Japanese like onsens so much and why it is an integral part of their lifestyle. Not only is time spent pleasantly, but the benefits are felt for a long time afterwards.
It is above all this relaxation and intense feeling of well-being which will encourage you to frequent these famous thermal baths again.
And while these baths are often public, you can enjoy exceptional baths in the surroundings of a luxury hotel.
Hoshino Resorts KAI Atami has an outstanding onsen with a sea view. So, you can relax in your bath and admire the sunset on the horizon at the same time. Doesn’t that sound like a dream holiday taking shape?