How to: use Ja­pan’s onsen baths, and more

Lonely Planet (UK) - - Contents -

Tak­ing a hot-spring bath is one way to soak up Ja­pan!s cul­ture, but the code of con­duct can be mys­ti­fy­ing. Fol­low our guide to im­pec­ca­ble onsen eti­quette.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT DOOR

Men and women al­most al­ways bathe sep­a­rately. Men’s baths are des­ig­nated by a blue noren cur­tain with this sym­bol , while women’s use a red noren cur­tain marked .

COVER UP THAT INK

Tat­toos are as­so­ci­ated with or­gan­ised crime in Ja­pan and as a re­sult, many on­sens ban them en­tirely. Cover small ones with a plas­ter.

DITCH THE SWIM­SUIT

Tra­di­tional on­sens have a strict dress code: birth­day suits only. A small, strate­gi­cally placed towel can be used to preser ve one’s dig­nity.

DON’T FOR­GET TO WASH

En­ter­ing an onsen un­washed is im­po­lite. Sit at a wash sta­tion – each has a stool, bowl, tap and shower – and douse your­self down.

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