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The Onsen

Posted by Kathryn Marshall on March 1, 2012 at 7:00 PM

One of the best things in Japan is the Onsen. Now, if you don't know what an Onsen is, you will either be suprised or terribly shocked. An Onsen is a public bath house, which uses natural hot springs to fill the pools. They are the best comforts during the freezing cold months!

Each Onsen is unique because of all the different types of baths/pools. The first time I experienced an onsen was during our snowboarding trips in Nojiri were the snow piles up to your cabin's second floor. This Onsen had a sauna and a rock pond outside where the snow was the barrier between us and the outside world. I met many young girls there who were on their school skii trip. They were so excited to meet a 'gaijin'. I was able to talk with them some in Japanese. They were so cute! We had a small snowball fight using our snow barrier. :P

My favorite Onsen is the one nearby our house in Chiba. There you can enjoy a massage or a meal before or after your dip. In the bath section, there's a milk bath (some places offer a tea bath), two regular hot baths (one has an 'electric chair', which is a small seat that uses electric shock waves to stimulate your muscles and 'aid in reproduction'), there's also a set of stone chairs with a 'water fall' cascading down them. The outside is decorated like a simple Japanese garden with a small water mill in one of the pools. Under a canopy lies a set of stone 'beds' which are just like the chairs that I described before. A stone pillow and a small groove at the end so your feet can stay submerged in the hot water. It feels so nice to have the hot water rushing against your back and the cold air above. Right before we leave, we usually take a dip in the COLD bath. Yes, it is freezing cold, not luke warm. I've stayed in for as long as TWO MINUTES! :D (It keeps the warm in and keeps your skin from drying out.) 

The Onsen is a great place to hang out with friends and relax. Maybe we should have them in America? I wonder if the idea would catch on there? Many people doupt it would because of the type of people it might attract. I must admit that the sight wouldn't be as pretty since Americans wear tattoos while that's a taboo in Japan. Would you like to try the Onsen?

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