Japanese Onsen Etiquette
Get initiated on the relaxing Onsen experience
For the uninitiated, the Onsen experience can be somewhat unchartered waters. From bath etiquette to cultural sensitivity, it’s best to be prepared before dipping your toe into this traditional, and worthwhile experience. Here’s our shortlist of tips to make sure you don’t get burned so you can act like you’ve been there before.
Wash carefully: Nobody likes dingle berries in their bath, especially if you're sharing. Make sure to wash yourself thoroughly BEFORE entering the bath. This is pure fresh spring water, non-chlorinated.
Get low: Most baths will have small stools to squat on to help you self clean those hard to reach crevices. Crouch down, get low, and get a good scrub.
Let it all hang out: Don’t be shy, nobody cares whether you look like adonis or jabba the hut, the point is to enjoy the bath and to help keep it clean. No swimsuits, no exceptions. Anything you bring into the tub beyond your birthday suit is looked down upon and dirty. Think of it this way, if you don’t want to draw attention to yourself..go nude.
No tattoos allowed: This isn’t LA Inked, it doesn’t matter whether you’re sporting a sweet sleeve or an epic image of an eagle snatching a butterfly on your lower back, no tattoos allowed. Tattoos are uncommon for Japanese, and locally it can be viewed as an affiliation with Yakuza or gangsters. Small tattoos may be able to be covered with waterproof bandages, but it’s better to be safe than sorry here.