Since Japan is a country with many volcanoes, there are hot springs all over the country from north to south. According to the Ministry of the Environment, there are more than 3,000 hot spring resorts in Japan
In comparing Western and Japanese hot springs, we can see a major cultural difference: Whereas in the West people have used hot springs for exercise and thermotherapy, always wearing a swimsuit when doing so, in Japan people have used them by soaking themselves up to their shoulders while naked.@These natural treasures have been used by many not only for medical purposes but also as places to interact with others and relax.
There is a Japanese expression, gHadaka no tsuikiai,h which basically translates as ggetting to know each other while naked.h The idea is that when you are naked itfs easier to open yourself up to other people as you forget about hiding yourself or putting up any fronts of vanity. This concept may very well have been created because of the fact that the Japanese are normally bound by strict regime of superior-inferior relationships.
Because of such cultural background and history, Onsen, since ancient times, have always been a central feature of Japanese tourism. Popular onsen resorts are often crowded with couples, families or company groups who want to get away from the hectic life of the city to relax.
Visiting onsen resorts is not only one of the most popular holiday activities among the Japanese, but is also highly recommended for any foreign visitors of Japan. The ultimate in hot springs can be experienced by spending a night at an onsen ryokan, a Japanese style inn with hot spring baths. Onsen ryokan can be found in various sizes in hot spring resorts across Japan. A typical onsen ryokan visit starts with a bath before dinner. The beautifully arranged Japanese style dinner can be enjoyed not only in a dining hall but also in your room. Eating in your own room is called gHeya-shoku,h and is considered one of the luxuries at Japanese-style inns. Many guests like to take another bath before sleeping and before breakfast the next morning.
Some people from foreign countries may think, gI am uncomfortable going
to Japanese hot springs because I donft know what is proper or improper
there.h Here we will introduce a few basic points on how to take a bath
at Japanese hot springs
This may sound difficult, but all you need to know is to keep the bath
water clean so that everyone can enjoy it.
Taking a quiet and leisurely soak by yourself is one option, or you can have lively conversation in the bathtub with your friends or family. Lounging in a spacious bathtub will soothe away your daily fatigue and stress for sure!