JAPAN: PRANCING AROUND NAKED IN AN ONSEN

Me, prancing around butt-naked, in the snow?!

It's an image I can't quite wrap my head around. But yep, I did it ;) Japan's famous for their Onsens - natural hot springs that exist due to the volcanic activity. The water's natural minerals are touted to have healing powers, healing all sorts of physical ailments. I was initially a bit iffy and not so keen about going to one - the thought of being totally naked in front of a bunch of people is just too exhibitionistic to me :P But Chris was very keen and convinced me to go on a trip out to an Onsen.

We picked the Yunosato onsen, located about 1.5 hours away by high-speed train. Getting there was an adventure in itself! It's very Japanese to buy a bento box filled with goodies, and bring it with you on the train to eat. After carefully selecting my bento box of choice (and other snacks), we settled into the comfy seats for our journey there.

Much like in China, it was fascinating to see all the buildings and cityscapes fade away quickly as we pulled out of the city and into the countryside. Lots of green, rolling hills, and snow-capped mountains. It was lovely to get out to the countryside...

The super-fast train, cryptically named "Romance Car"


Fabulous bento boxes. They are so fun to eat on the train!


Lunch. Mmm....


Up in the mountains - chilly!



The Yunosato onsen is located at the foot of the Yusakayama mountain. It provides 5 sources of hot spring water for the onsen, at a rate of 400,000 litres per day! There's all manners of onsen etiquette, because the Japanese are so neat and clean. Let's just say NOTHING would get me near something similar in China ;) At the onsen, there's a spick-n-span bathroom, spacious and incredibly clean - not a hint of mould or dirt anywhere. You strip and pop all your clothes into your locker, and walk buck-naked into the shower area.

There, there's a little plastic chair for you to sit on (you don't shower standing up displaying your ladybits to the world, you see), and a shower head with bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Here, you scrub yourself clean. The Japanese women take a good 15 mins to scrub themselves from head to toe, so that they're totally clean.

Then, it's off to the indoor onsen. Indoors because the air inside is heated - you don't exactly want to step out into the snow outside naked! The onsen is H-O-T. But that's the point - you soak yourself in the natural spring water until you're all heated up... THEN you open the glass sliding doors and step outside.

A blast of icy air hits you immediately, but it's a welcome relief because the onsen was so hot. You make a mad dash into one of the outdoor onsens - ours had 5 (!!) to choose from. You lay back, relax, and basically bask yourself in the heat of the hot spring water... whilst admiring the mountains and snow around you. It's a mystical, magical experience because clouds of steam are rising from all the onsens, yet you see snow-capped mountains around you. Totally surreal - being naked, soaking in hot spring water, and outdoors in the -2 degree winter air.

And, boy, IS IT FUN!!!

A fabulous way to relax and unwind, the Japanese are onto something here.. hehe. It was fairly strange (and a bit comical) seeing all the women naked - I've never seen so many nude women in real life, ever! Well, never too late to try something new ;)

The path leading up to the Onsen


Pretty little Japanese garden


Inside the Onsen area... these are the Relaxation rooms


Our little welcome card/guide


Entering the changing rooms.. and the Onsen lies behind that


Bliss and relaxation


The outdoor onsens


A little hairtie - a souvenir I bought there


Comments

Is it a mixed gender thing? I'd love to do onsen but I wouldn't want to go alone without Merv!
Unfortunately the public onsens are all separated into male and female. If you want to soak in one with Merv then you'll need to go to a ryokan/hotel that have private baths in the room which was what we did.
I was the same, didn't wanna go there without Chris.. but the private ones aren't as good cos it's not huge/multiple open-air grottos... but more like a big bathtub indoors. And I was keen on the outdoor proper-onsen experience :P

The Ryokan hotels are a great experience tho - cos you can stay in a Jap style room, and get served awesome Jap food. Next time we might try that :)
Weak! We ran straight to the outdoor one instead of warming up indoors first. Heh! :p Anyway I have to say I was pretty impressed with all the toiletries and such provided, they really think of everything. Ours even provided nail polish remover, all sealed up of coz! Takes a while to get used to showering sitting down though.
Gaaaah! That's way too hardcore for me :P It was, um, interesting seeing so many nekkid females around me though, haha.
Fun!! I want to go to an onsen right away!! Am really loving your Japan posts since I've never been. Now I want to go even more :D
It was soooo fun, more fun/interesting than I'd expected. Wanna go back :P
There's a super awesome one in Oosaka - they even have massage jets! Did you build any snowmen while you were in the outside ones?

Ah, crunky...mmm
Yeah ours did too, it was soooo relaxing!

There was snow around but not actually on the ground at the onsen - too much steam :)
haha did that say krunky kids?
Yeah, they have some bizzaro names for food there :P
love.love your japan entries! i really want to go!!!!!
You should plan a trip there! It's tres fun :)
One of my best friends went to an onsen frequently when he lived in Japan for a few months during his studies. He LOVED it, his favorite way to unwind.
Ohhhh I'm so envious, how nice to be able to go there frequently, for a few months! Lucky guy
so fun!!

but 1.5 hours away?? *scrunches up face*
It's actually considered v close for Japan standards. WHen you're on the train time really flies cos you're eating your bento box and chilling out!
i suppose only japan can you eat on the trains!

if its singapore/malaysia/china, it'll be messy and dirty all over the place~~

(Anonymous)

Hi Beverly! Stumbled upon your blog a while ago and so exited to see your trip to Japan! We are going in May and just adore all your little findings/tips around there. :)

I was thinking about this whole Onsen thing too - just sounds scary to me, but oh so want to try it.

Anyway, just want to say hello :)
Cecil
Hi Cecil, thanks for dropping by! How lucky that you're going to Japan in May... am so envious hehe.

You def should check out an Onsen whilst you're in Japan. It's a real experience and a treat - actually not that scary and it is soooo relaxing.
hehe! I take my hat off to ya to have tried that! I bet it was an experience ;) The place looks SPOTLESS!!!
It was hella fun, hehe, no regrets! i wanna do it again..
You went to Hakone! How AWESOME!!! Lams and I have never been able to figure out why we can't take the Romance train both ways!?!!? Both times, we can only take the slow train there and the Romance train back. Maybe 'cos we bundle up our purchase with the Hakone pass?!?!
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