Onsen in detail: how does a Japanese bath differ from a Russian one

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Onsen in detail: how does a Japanese bath differ from a Russian one

Onsens entered the life of the Japanese relatively recently, but quickly became part of the traditional culture: there are about 3,000 hot mineral springs in the country, which are visited by millions of local residents every year. Japan even passed a special law on onsen, which details what can and cannot be done in such places. Impressed “Subtleties” found out how to behave in a Japanese bath and why it does not look like a Russian one.

How it works

Onsenis a thermal spring with a water temperature above +25 °C (if the water is cooler, such a spring is called kosen). There are thousands of onsen hotels with two types of hot baths: ofuro – baths in enclosed spaces where thermal water is supplied from a well, and rotenburo– natural open-air reservoirs, overlooking the garden, forest, mountains or sea. Hot baths with thermal water are located in a variety of places: in gardens, on rooftops, from where you can admire the surrounding landscapes, on the ground floor, so that, having warmed up well, take a walk to the seashore and listen to the sound of the waves. In expensive hotels, there are bathtubs with a view of nature right in the room.

Traditionally, onsens were not divided into men's and women's, everyone bathed in them together. Nowadays, separate baths are more often arranged, or men and women use them at different hours. The healing properties of thermal waters have been known since antiquity, but the tourist boom around the mineral springs began only in the middle of the last century.

Now a trip to onsens is a popular form of recreation: here the Japanese relieve fatigue and enjoy the contemplation of natural beauties.1/1

Bath ceremonies

Visiting an onsen is a whole ritual associated with the observance of a number of rules. Before entering the locker room, you need to take off your shoes outside the threshold: the floors inside are covered with tatami reeds, which are comfortable to sit on, but in no case should you walk on them in shoes. It is very important not to make a mistake with the choice of the locker room, otherwise you can find yourself not only in an awkward situation, but also in the police station. Color will help you navigate: the women's locker rooms have red curtains, the men's have blue ones.

In most onsens, it is customary to swim naked, but in some places swimwear is allowed. Clothes must be left in a locker or a special basket, you can only take a small towel with you. Before immersing yourself in the source, be sure to take a shower: wash yourself thoroughly with soap and thoroughly wash off the soap suds so that it does not get into the bath. Onsen are distinguished from Russian baths by strict prohibitions: you can’t make noise, drink alcohol, and people with tattoos are not allowed here – the Japanese associate such decorations with the local mafia – yakuza.

Despite the close proximity to Japan, there are no onsens in Russia: the first and only attempt to open such an institution in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk ended unsuccessfully – it was not possible to get to the thermal waters, and the construction of the facility was frozen.

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