Onsen are popular Japanese bathing facilities that makes use of the water from the hot springs. They are often located outdoors, although there are inns which have indoor bathing facilities.
The water used are naturally hot water from geothermal springs. Onsen water is said to have therapeutic effect derived from the mineral content. These healing properties may depend on the amount and type of mineral content the water has.
The onsen we went to had separate bathing facility for men and women. Clothes are supposed to be put in the lockers and then you must shower before entering the waters. Stools, soaps and shampoos are often provided but in some places, people bring their own soaps.
People are supposed to wash thoroughly, completely rinsing off the soap before dipping in the water. The atmosphere was relaxed and peaceful, loud conversations are discouraged and it is considered rude if you disturb the peace.
In some places, guests are not allowed to bring a camera. I almost brought my camera inside but the concierge saw me and said it is forbidden.
It was too bad that I learned all this rules after I bathed in the onsen. It turns out I broke many rules. I was so sad and quite ashamed of myself upon learning this.
First, I was not stark naked.
Second, I did not shower and went directly to the ryokan.
There were few people in the onsen so I didn’t realize my mistake immediately. No wonder they were staring at me. I was in the onsen wearing a singlet and shorts (yes, that’s what I consider a swimwear). I realize my mistake when my friend told me. She thought it was funny that I did not know. On the bright side, I had a wonderful time just sitting in onsen. I felt like all the pressure in my back and tension on my feet were suddenly eliminated.
To cap off our invigorating evening, we had our dinner in the inn’s restaurant.
A bit embarrassing but at least it was an enjoyable experience. Although, I just wonder if the other ladies were bothered that time.