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