Carpe Diem #1164 – Onsen the hot springs of Japan

Carpe Diem #1164 Onsen the hot springs of Japan

This month at Carpe Diem I’m exploring the “Motherland” of haiku, Japan.

Today I’m taking a look at Onsen – Hot Springs of Japan.

An onsen is a Japanese hot spring and the bathing facilities and inns frequently situated around them.


Photo Credit –  Outdoor Onsen of the Nakanoshima Hotel on Nakanoshima island in Nachikatsuura, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan.

The island has six different hot springs with high sulfur content. (The pool was closed for cleaning when the image was taken. On this day, the pool was assigned to men).

As a volcanically active country, Japan has thousands of onsens scattered throughout all of its major islands.

Onsens are a central feature of Japanese tourism, typically found in the countryside, but there are also a number of popular establishments found major cities.

The legal definition of an onsen includes the requirement that its water must contain at least one of 19 designated chemical elements, including such minerals as iron, sulfur, and metabolic acid, and have an average temperature of 25 °C (77 °F) or warmer at the point of release.

Onsen water is believed to have healing powers derived from its mineral content.

At an onsen, as at a sentō, all guests are expected to wash their bodies and rinse themselves thoroughly before entering the hot water. Bathing stations are equipped with stools, faucets, wooden buckets, and toiletries such as soap and shampoo; nearly all onsen also provide removable shower heads for bathing convenience. Entering the onsen while still dirty or with traces of soap on the body is socially unacceptable.onsen-4-washing-cubicles_-_20071009

Photo Credit – Onsen four washing cubicles

Bathers are not normally allowed to wear swimsuits in the baths. However, some modern onsen with a waterpark atmosphere requires their guests to wear a swimming suit in their mixed baths.

At 2015, around half (56%) of onsen operators banned bathers with tattoos from using their facilities. However, tattoo-friendly onsen does exist.

Monkeys enjoying the heated springs.

Heavy snowfalls (snow covers the ground for 4 months a year), an elevation of 850 meters.

The monkeys descend from the steep cliffs and forest to sit in the warm waters of the onsen (hot springs) and return to the security of the forests in the evenings.

However, since the monkeys are fed by park attendants, they are in the area of the hot springs all the year round, and a visit at any season will enable the visitor to observe hundreds of the macaques.


Photo Credit – The Outdoor bath at Tsurunoyu Onsen, Akita Prefecture in the winter. Japanese macaques enjoying a roten-buro open-air onsen at Jigokudani Monkey Park

My tanka poem using the study of  Onsen Hot Springs in Japan

hot springs everywhere

japan has thousands enjoy

natures pure water healthy

even better when its blessed

rather not be with monkeys


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