Japanese hot spring experience

Onsen experience

Japan, being a volcanically active country, is known for its natural hot springs. It is called onsen in the Japanese language and is popular with the locals as well as visitors.

When we were in my husband’s hometown, my MIL wanted to take us to a an onsen. It was summer when we went there and I gently asked her that the last thing I would want to do on a hot summer day was soak my body in hot, volcanic water.

So, she took us to a foot onsen instead.

A foot onsen (Ashiyu)  is what the word is – a hot spring for the feet. It is a nice place to soak your tired feet in. This one is just a few meters away from MIL’s house and free and open to the public, 24 hours.

MIL tied Pristine’s dress so she wouldn’t get wet. We pose for photos before soaking.

onsen-niigata-1

By the way, the sign on the wall says, “Sen nen no yu”, which literally means, “a thousand year-old hot spring”. Hubby’s hometown is a quiet onsen town and some onsens that existed hundreds or thousands of years are still there, in it’s original state.

Her first impression of the foot onsen? HOT! She nervously smiles (maybe thinking, are we nuts to put our feet into this boiling water!?) as she removes her feet from the water.

onsen-niigata-4

It wasn’t that bad and my tired feet loved the warm sensation. What’s great about it is that we wouldn’t have to do the tedious task of removing all our clothes – I only have to roll up my jeans. No kidding, one has to be butt-naked when in a Japanese hot spring. 

onsen-niigata-6

Pristine tried again. She soaks her feet then puts it out and soaks it again. It might not be the case had it been winter.

Onsen experience

It was a lovely experience for her. MIL was delighted her granddaughter tried and did not complain much.

Next time, I’ll take her to a real onsen, like this:

Onsen indoor

I think she’ll like it as much as I do. And we’ll go on winter.

If you enjoyed this post, check out Little girl in the big city and other upcoming posts where I document our trip to Japan last summer (I know it’s been a long time ago but better late than never!). We/I took Pristine to places to let her experience the Japanese way of life, most of it, she is not aware or already forgotten.

22 thoughts on “Japanese hot spring experience

  1. I love hot springs, we’ve got a few here too, though nothing as simple and serene as Japan’s – ours tend to be major (and majorly crowded) “taking the waters” kind of spas.

    Don’t know the hot water in the summertime – we just put a hot tub on our roof patio and it’s divine, even know that the weather is heating up. We just turn it down a few degrees :).

    Robins last blog post..Star light, star bright

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    • There’s a hot spring here in the UAE as well (hard to believe but true – in the Emirate of Fujairah) but I was surprised by how loud the crowd was. Some children were even splashing water like it’s a pool! In Japan, onsens are a place to relax so it’s quiet and yes, in your words, serene.

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    • Oh taking off clothes is as bad as it sounds! LOL. The Japanese don’t really mind (so you won’t be embarrassed and all), believe me.

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    • It was relaxing especially for tired feet at the end of the day. Sometimes I wish they’d be a natural foot spa like that here in Dubai.

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    • >> That would scare the locals
      LOL! But you won’t believe this, the locals are so cool – in a way that they won’t oggle at your naked body. I was even surprised myself on my first onsen “adventure”.

      Must be a really different experience for non-Japanese (the naked stuff) but I am sure it would be a great story to tell!

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  2. We visited a hot spring in the west cost. The name escapes me now but it used to be quite the place in the day. Now it’s just a tourist stop. No one is allowed in because they are trying to preserve the natural environment.

    I would love to do this. I think this is more my speed than the totally buff one. LOL. Was there an odour? The spring we visited had a strong sulpher (I think) smell.

    Moes last blog post..Igigi Limited Collection

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  3. Wow that really looks so awesome wish we had things like that here in South Africa 🙂 You have a beautiful child she is really stunning, she did look like she enjoyed it, I was a little stunned when you said that in the other onsen you have to be butt naked that would stress me out a little or do you have the room to yourself or do you share with others.

    Will be back to visit again and see what you are up too
    Keep well.

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    • Yes – men and women baths are separate! There are onsens that allow both men and women in it. Most are private – for couples for example or families.

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