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Melt away in the hot springs

I am dreaming of my next holiday, and am wondering about all the promised 'digital health passports' that would facilitate travel when the borders finally reopen! For now, my choice of destination is 10km within the radius of my own home.


My dreams evoke feelings of my experience in a Japanese hot spring in winter. The pungent rotten egg odour, the thick vapour, piercing cold, the soft snow, the cascades of springs, the hot water and then, you melt away.


Japanese Onsen in a Ryokan in Niseko

If it is your first experience in an onsen, and if you are conscious about parading in the nude, I would suggest you do it during off-peak hours. I believe that would normally be during mealtime.

The most popular type of hot spring water in Japan is Sulphur Spring, it is the distinct smell of rotten eggs that you will forever associate with hot springs after experiencing it!


You wrap the crisply folded yukata (summer kimono), head to the changing room, undress till your butt naked.

Head to the vapour shrouded bath area, normally beneath a mural of a snow-capped Fuji-san, grab one of those small stools and start scrubbing yourself with soap and rinse off with water collected from the cypress-wood buckets


There are normally 2 pools, one indoor (uchi-buro) and one outdoor (roten-buro). In winter, I would normally soak for a while in the indoor pool before I venture outside.

Depending on how cold the condition is, but please don't run to the outdoor pool as the floor surface is normally slippery. Take that freezing naked walk with composure and style and enter into the pool step by step!


Dos & Don't in Japanese Onsen


DON'T


  • don't dip the towel of cloth inside the pool, you can fold it and place it on your head

  • wash with soap and rinse off before entering the pool

  • depending on the bath, most of the time you should rinse the stool and place them back where you took them from

  • no jumping, no diving

  • try not to submerge your whole head into the water

  • you should not soak your whole body for more than 5 minutes otherwise you may get heatstroke. Everyone has different thresholds so, slowly submerge yourself.

  • do not bring your soap inside the pool

  • if you are in a group, don't be too noisy

  • try to dry yourself with a small towel before going into the changing area or you might wet the dry area


DO


  • don't be shy, don't stare, even if he or she is drop-dead gorgeous

  • remember to rehydrate, once you come out of the pool. On many occasions, I have seen people fainted or pass out when they come out from the water. Therefore don't dip yourself for too long and do not submerge too much of your body into the water.

  • relax and melt away!

  • some people tend to take sake when in the pool, don't try it! This can spike up your blood pressure!



Remember you are prespiring buckets when you are in the onsen, DRINK LOADS OF WATER to rehydrate!



Reflections


Hotsprings, when is snowing, is such a strange experience. Cold soft snow gathers on your head while beneath your chest, it feels warm, comfortable and fluid. It washes away all your worries and stress from a long day's work.... and you will be ready for a good long slumber, and dream about your next travel destination!




Remember no towels inside!!























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