Onsen, the Japanese way of life

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-japan

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.

ourdoor-bath

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.

Fun alternative to sauna in Japan

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.

bath-relaxation

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.

Onsen in Japan - Hoshino Resorts Kai

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.

outdoor-bath

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.

infused-tea-bath

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.

hoshino-resorts-kai-atami

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?

HOSHINOYA Kyoto, luxury and refinement of a ryokan in Kyoto

Once you are over the Togetsukyo Bridge at Kyoto, the mystery still remains unsolved. You can see no shadow of a hotel and the landscape reveals no clues except for the banks of the Ôigawa River that you have to reach when you realise that the journey does not end there.

Hoshino Resorts HOSHINOYA Kyoto hotel boat

Once you are free of your luggage, you are invited to head for the pontoon, where a very beautiful wooden boat is moored waiting for you to get into. The engine starts up; the boat slips away from its anchorage with you on board and heads for HOSHINOYA Kyoto. The pace is slow and the ride is pleasant, the perfect pace for you to observe nature and try to make out your destination, but you still have to wait.

Boat on a river in Kyoto

Ten minutes later, the bank is getting closer and you finally catch sight of the first outlines of Arashiyama. You have hardly set your feet on dry land when you look up and your gaze is lost in these natural wooded surroundings to try and see where the hamlet, whose first buildings can be glimpsed a few metres from the water, extends to. You are plagued by impatience and the desire to know more.

You must now take the stairs in front of you and then go up the grey stone path to reach the heart of the hamlet. Once you have crossed the threshold the magic happens; you hear the sound of water in the fountain and soft music being played live by musicians with gentle faces, some armchairs are set out ready to welcome you so that you can fully appreciate the tranquillity of the surroundings: Welcome to HOSHINOYA Kyoto.

Ryokan luxury hotel room of the Hoshino Resorts HOSHINOYA Kyoto

This village which appears to be clinging on to the slopes of the hill is a place of tranquillity and pleasure. Once you have arrived, stress disappears and your worries and cares are left far behind, and your holidays can begin. You check in and are then led to your room based on the concept of a Ryokan, traditional Japanese inns which blend tradition and modernity and in addition luxurious refinement.

Traditional tea ceremony in Kyoto, Japan

During your stay, choose to “let go”. Breathe, forget everyday life and immerse yourself in one of these rituals which makes Japan fascinating. The tea ceremony is certainly the most iconic. Then Hojicha, one kind of Japanese green tea, is prepared in the room accompanied by a traditional delicious pastry, which adds to the charm and refinement of the moment. Let yourself be captivated by the incense ceremony scheduled in the late morning which will teach you a little bit more about the subtlety of the Japanese people.

Japanese Kaiseki Food by Chef Ichiro Kubota

Although the surroundings beckon you to rest and total relaxation, it is also an opportunity for all you food lovers to try Kaiseki cuisine. Chef Ichiro Kubota offers contemporary cuisine which is respectful of Kyoto’s culinary traditions, linking together a succession of elegant and colourful dishes, a tasty journey ingrained with refinement and Japanese precision; a meal which can be enjoyed with one of the sakes on the menu in order to fully follow the Japanese lifestyle. And when you finish why not sit in HOSHINOYA Kyoto lounge bar to sample one of the excellent Japanese whiskies available for tasting. The numerous suggestions will delight whisky lovers and convince novices.