In Japan, the art of bathing has been refined to an art form. Visitors should take advantage of the opportunity to keep up with friends and family and socialize while they are becoming sober. In addition to promoting the curative effects of mineral-rich hot springs for the heart and skin, it is not uncommon for them to place a strong emphasis on wellness and relaxation.
Japanese public bathhouses are known as Sento because they are heated artificially rather than using natural hot springs. There is a distinct difference between Onsen and Sento, which can be found in upmarket hotels and traditional Japanese inns. Before visiting a Japanese onsen hot spring, make sure to know these ten etiquette points that will surely be a great help for anyone visiting Japan.
10 Do Not Bring Shoes Inside The Bathhouse
After entering the bathhouse, as is customary in Japan, visitors will be requested to remove their shoes before proceeding further. It is possible that they will be given their own footwear that they can use around the premises of a larger hotel, ryokan, or bathing complex. However, it is important not to wear them in the actual bathing area. This is part of the culture in any Asian country, so do not forget to leave those shoes outside any premises.
9 Ensure That The Onsen Allows Tattoos Before You Arrive
For a variety of reasons, including the existence of linkages between organized crime and tattooing in Japan, most public baths in the country restrict entrance to anyone who has tattoos. Fortunately, this is gradually changing, with an increasing number of public baths that are more open-minded to these things. In comparison, some establishments will accept customers with tattoos in just specific hours or with modest tattoos that are covered with a sticker. In fact, tourists can even purchase skin-colored patches that are specifically designed for this purpose, which some establishments will provide to clients free of charge.
8 Everything Must Be Removed
Bathing in a swimsuit is not permitted in almost all Japanese public baths, and if visitors attempted to do so, they would probably attract a great deal of attention. It is recommended to be ready to get naked, as this is customary in public baths. Do not worry, as public baths are always gender-based, so there is no chance that men and women are inside the same area.
7 If Nervous, Try Using A Private Bath
If all of this seems overwhelming, don't worry. Visitors who are nervous about the idea of getting naked in public baths may start with a private bath to get their bearings. Many onsens and most ryokan feature them, which can be rented for a fee from the establishment. There is no restriction on a mixed-gender group bathing together, laughing and chattering as loudly as they want. Remember to keep the water clean and to leave the space in the same condition as you found it, so that the next guests may enjoy it.
6 Do Not Bring Any Kind Of Gadget
It should go without saying that everyone should leave their gadgets at home when they're in any public bathhouses. There is a great majority of people who are naked and do not wish to be included in any photos, so be respectful to their privacy and do not photograph anything.
5 Before Entering Any Baths, Make Sure To Fully Clean One's Body Thoroughly
There are cases in that visitors may be tempted to jump right into the relaxing hot tubs as soon as they enter, but keep in mind that while they are intended for leisure, they are intended more for cleansing purposes. Visitors must get into the shower and properly clean themselves, taking care not to splatter anyone else. Guests are welcome to bring their own amenities, which can be stored next to the showers while they relax in the tub or shower. Make sure to fully rinse to avoid putting any soapy residue into the bath or spa.
4 Do Not Go In Public Bath Houses If In Pain Or Going Through A Menstrual Period
In spite of the fact that menstruation is viewed as defiling in the Shinto religion in Japan, there is still a strong element of taboo associated with it in the nation. However, it is also an issue of practicality. Onsen and Sento are communal bathing facilities, thus going while menstruating, with any open wounds, or in any other way that could pollute the water is considered rather disrespectful in Japan. So visitors would want to reschedule having fun in public baths if this is the case.
3 Do Not Submerge Hair In Water
Another rule that is intended to keep the water clean is to not allow hair in the bath or spa. If visitors have long hair, they will want to make sure that it will not go into the water. It's as simple as tying their hair back after a shower and not submerging it in the water.
2 Take Care Not To Engage In Any Physical Activity, Such As Running, Diving, Or Even Shouting
Visitors will not want to ruin the relaxed and nice vibe for the other guests. Running on the wet ground would also be unsafe, so visitors shouldn't do laps in the pool while other people are trying to rest. If someone is with a kid, they should make sure the child is aware of the dangers of running around in the water. Aside from that, public bathhouses in Japan serve as a relaxing place for anyone who visits. Make sure not to do any unnecessary things that will ruin it.
1 Respect Others' Privacy
It's evident that visitors shouldn't get too close to someone while they are in a room full of naked strangers. In a public bathhouse, visitors should avoid staring at someone or sitting near to them unless there is a lot of room in-between. However, if it feels natural to begin a discussion in a formal atmosphere, it is quite acceptable to do so. People in rural areas, in particular, may be curious if a tourist may have been to an onsen before and if they are enjoying it.