Monday, June 1, 2009

Onsen or Hot springs Japanese style

Everywhere in Japan you will find onsen (public bath houses) and they led me to the conclusion that Japanese must be cleanest people in the world. And that onsen is something we should import to Europe!

You learn the etiquette really quickly and most of the bigger places even have how-to brochures for stupid tourists like us.

First of all you buy your ticket. Then you get out of your shoes and leave them at a shoe box at the entrance. You then proceed to your changing room (red for women, blue for men), where you get naked and put all your stuff in a locker. Attach the key to your wrist and proceed to the onsen proper, a big room with 10 to 20 knee high showers and a big pool in the middle. DO NOT go into the pool immediately! First you have to get clean! You sit on a plastic chair in front of your shower and scrub yourself for at least 10 minutes with soap. I don't know about the men, but the women in these onsen are excessive. (Men and women have separate departments in an onsen). You might think they have a wash complex when they scrub every square milimeter of skin for hours.

Free foot spa at rest area
Only after you are clean and all soap is rinsed off, you are allowed to sit in the big pool. Unfortunately for not too long, because the thing is so damn hot that you nearly collapse after 10 minutes. You dry yourself with a towel that you have balanced on your head while sitting in the onsen and get out of the bath. The real posh onsen have a lounge where you can sit in your yukata (bath robe), drink tea and relax before you leave.I think I have never felt that clean before in my life and you sleep like a baby afterwards.

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