Hot springs, or onsen, are a big part of any Japanese holiday and a great addition to your Olympic experience.
Tokyo isn’t well known as a hot spring destination but you can get a taste at Edo-Onsen Monogatari, an onsen theme park in Odaiba.
Hot Springs Etiquette
Traditional onsen and sento are authentic, cultural experiences, however visitors with tattoos may struggle to gain entry. Tattoos are uncommon in Japan and can be associated to ties with the Yakuza (Japanese mafia) – even tiny ones. Even when covered, tattoos can still be frowned upon. Check the guidelines of the establishment you are planning to visit before entering. Please also note that in most cases, wearing a swimsuit/clothing of any kind is not permitted whilst using the baths and full nudity is often the standard. Some resorts offer a choice of private onsen facilities, mixed gender and separate male and female options.
- Say hello to each other. Greeting everyone makes the experience more enjoyable
- Rinse your body before bathing. ‘Kakeyu’ is the act of pouring onsen water on yourself before entering the bath for cleanliness. Use the ‘Senmenki’ (small bowls) provided to pour the water on yourself
- Temperature control. The water may feel very hot, so enter slowly and cautiously
- Avoid sitting on the rim of the onsen
- Pay your respects to the locals. Onsens are a place for relaxation, so please be quiet, calm and friendly when using the facility.