Top Reasons Why Onsens Are The Best Thing About Japan

Author: Shubhankar Sen on Aug 03,2022
Onsens japan

Japan is a country filled with many unique and exciting things, especially when it comes to its culture. Visitors to the country find so many facets of the Japanese lifestyle fascinating. The modern Japanese person lives very differently from people in other countries, which is why traditional onsens (hot springs) are so prominent here. This article will explore what an onsen is, why they are so common in Japan, and its cultural significance. Check out these reasons why onsens are the best thing about Japan!


1. What is an Onsen?


what is onsens


Onsens are Japanese hot spring baths. These baths are found in almost all parts of Japan, with an estimated 9,000 onsen locations scattered around the country. Onsens are usually natural hot springs that come from the ground, which is why they are so common in Japan. This is because the country has lots of volcanoes, and the groundwater in these areas becomes very warm. Onsen water is believed to have many health benefits, such as promoting blood circulation, helping with aching muscles, boosting metabolism, improving skin condition, relaxing the mind, and many more. Many onsen baths are built in outdoor settings, and some even have natural outdoor rock pools for bathing. In this way, the onsen experience differs significantly from that of a modern spa. Once you know what to look for, an onsen is not difficult to spot. 


2. Why are Onsens so Popular in Japan?


Onsens are very popular in Japan, and it is easy to see why. The experience of bathing in an onsen is unlike any other on the planet, with guests enjoying the hot water, steam, relaxing music, and stunning views as they unwind. Many onsens have open-air baths that invite the outside world into the experience. A hot spring water bath is healing, and many say the experience is deeply relaxing. Onsens are especially great for stressed people with a lot of muscle tension in their bodies. Many onsens also have saunas (called rotemburo), and a hot spring bath followed by a sauna is a great way to simultaneously relax the mind and body.


3. Cultural Significance of Onsens in Japan


There are many cultural traditions associated with onsens in Japan. A fascinating tradition is that people go without any clothes while bathing in the onsen. While some people keep a small towel around the waist, the practice is to go without clothes. This tradition has its roots in honoring nature and a belief that one should not pollute the water of the natural onsen. Onsens are especially popular in the winter when people come to them to get warm. In ancient times, people would go out and wash in the winter in a cold river or stream, which is very different from modern bathing. The healing benefits of hot water are said to be especially important for people in the winter, as the steam created by a hot water bath is believed to help people with colds and sinus infections.


4. Health Benefits of Going to an Onsen in Japan


Onsens are famous for the many health benefits that come with bathing in them. Onsens are believed to help with many health conditions, such as arthritis, skin conditions, anxiety, and many more. Most onsens will have particular areas for specific health conditions, such as an arthritis onsen, a rheumatism onsen, or an onsen for people with skin conditions. Some onsens are specially made for pregnant women and are called the Pregnant Women's onsen or the Pregnancy onsen. The onsen experience can be very relaxing, soothing, and therapeutic for many people. Many onsens have water that is naturally very hot, but some have water that can be adjusted to the temperature that you want.


5. Difference Between Onsens and Spas


Japanese Onsens and Sentos


The main difference between onsens and spas is that onsens are hot spring baths made from natural water from the ground. Spas, on the other hand, are water pools made with water from a filtration system that is artificially heated. Most spas are located indoors and are often in a place that looks like a luxury hotel room. Some onsens are indoors as well, but most are outdoors. A frequent complaint about spas is that they are costly and require a lot of money to attend. On the other hand, many onsens are free to use or are very cheap to use.


6. Difference Between Japanese Onsens and Sentos


Onsens are traditional Japanese hot springs, while Sentos is a public bath that originated in 19th-century Japan and was initially used to clean clothes. Both onsens and sentos are found in Japan and other Asian countries.

As the name suggests, onsens are natural springs of mineral-rich water, while sentos are artificial baths usually heated with water from a nearby river. Onsens are usually reserved for guests staying at the hotel, ryokan, or Japanese inn where they are located, while sentos are open to the public.


7. The Best Onsens in Japan


There are so many different onsens in Japan, so it isn't easy to pick the best ones. Some good places to visit include the Kinosaki Onsen in Hyogo Prefecture, the Tawarayu Onsen in the Kagawa Prefecture, the Atami Hot Spring in the Shizuoka Prefecture, the Shirahone Onsen in the Gifu Prefecture, the Takachiho Onsen in the Kumamoto Prefecture and the Gora Onsen in the Nagano Prefecture. There are also lots of onsens in Kyoto, such as the Sento, the Shimogamo Sento, the Shimogamo Midoribyu, the Shimogamo Muronoyu, and the Nine-no-yu, which is the oldest hot spring in Kyoto. Many of these onsens have been in operation for hundreds of years, and they make a significant part of any visit to Kyoto.


8. How to experience an authentic Japanese Hot Spring?


When going to an onsen, it is best to go early in the day or in the morning. This is because most onsen close in the afternoon or early evening. It is also best to go with a few people, as the experience is much more enjoyable with friends or loved ones. It is common for people to bring food to onsens and eat while bathing in the water. If you want to enjoy an authentic Japanese hot spring, the best thing is to go to an onsen that is natural and not artificial. A natural onsen is created in a way that is not artificial or controlled, and many of the best onsens are natural. 


9. How to enjoy a Japanese onsen?


How to enjoy a Japanese onsen


Before entering an onsen:


The term "onsen" can refer to the hot spring itself and the nearby amenities, which are frequently a part of a hotel or resort. If you are planning a day trip and do not have a reservation, you can purchase a ticket from a vending machine or a person standing close to the building's door.

It should be noted that some facilities will request that you take off your street shoes at the door and will provide a locker or shelf for them. You might take off your shoes at some facilities before entering the bathing area. Here, it is best to observe what others are doing and, if in doubt, get advice from the staff. Unless you want to remain the night, it is generally advised to limit the number of baggage you bring.


Changing Rooms in the onsen:


The majority of onsen require you to remove your shoes before entering. The scene can be fantastic, especially if you've never seen an onsen. However, be careful not to linger around the entrance. There may be other folks who need to enter or exit. The bath area is not permitted to have any vast towels or clothing. Make sure to carry a tiny towel, but if you can't, don't worry. Onsen typically lets you use their clean towels, though there may be a fee for this service. Check at the building's entrance. 


10. Etiquettes to follow when visiting an onsen


  • You are not allowed to jump or splash in the onsen. Just sit back and relax in the water.
  • Avoid using phones or taking pictures.
  • Tie your hair up and in a tight bun to avoid any discomfort.
  • Rinse yourself every time you move to a new bath.
  • Do not excessively chat around as it is a peaceful surrounding. 




Onsens are Japanese hot spring baths that are made using water that comes from the ground. The experience of bathing in an onsen is very different from that of a modern spa, and many onsens are found outdoors in beautiful locations. Onsens are very popular in Japan and are commonly used for relaxation, health benefits, and skin cleaning. Onsens are also very common in Japanese culture and are a great way to relax. If you ever visit Japan, make sure you experience an authentic Japanese hot spring! Follow for more travel tips and tricks. 

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