Hello everyone, It’s Romain from SUiTO FUKUOKA. I’m very happy cause today I’m writing about one of my favorite activity that japan can offer : ONSEN ! I’m going to those bathing facilities at least every month. But what is an Onsen? Why do I like it so much? How to use it? Where to go in Fukuoka? I will try to answer those questions for you.
The word Onsen (温泉), literally “Hot spring” is made of 2 kanji. 温 (On) who means “warm” and 泉 (sen) meaning “natural spring” or “fountain”. Due to his volcanic nature, Japan offer plenty of springs rich in Sulphur, Sodium, Hydrogen carbonate or even Iron. Many public bath have been created thanks to those springs, the oldest Onsens are over 3000 years old. It’s one of the favorite attractions for Japanese people or foreign visitor; there are thousands of them all over Japan.
Most of Onsen aren’t mixt, the reason is that you have to be naked to enjoy, even if you can use you face towel (small towel that you keep with you in the bath) to hide yourself. Don’t be shy, Japanese people are made just like you and me. You should let everything in the locker room except your face towel and toilet bag. Once you enter the bath you should rinse yourself, you will find special bucket for it. Then you should go in the tube bath, to get the most of it you are suppose to stay inside until you sweat from the face (about 12 minutes depending on people). You can repeat this many times with a nice break in between to cool your body down. The best things to do is to shower before you last bath and not shower again so the natural mineral water can stay on your skin for the whole day or night to make sure your skin benefit from it to it maximum. Some place offer powerful water jet who can massage you for some variations.
Most of Onsen are equipped with sauna who is fully part of the experience, you are free to use it or not. It’s a prehistoric practice that consist of staying in a wooden room with high temperatures. Usually around 90 degrees you can find various kind of them with different wood or leaves inside. There is also a 12 minutes clock who is the supposed amount of time you should stay to sweat at your maximum. You can do 3 times 12 minutes for example and go in a cold bath in between.
Why do I love Onsen so much?
Here is the most interesting part. Why should you use the sauna and bath in mineral hot water? There are many reasons actually but mainly because it’s super healthy.
Frist for you skin. The Sauna helps you to sweat deeply and expulse the toxins from your skin. The mineral water enriches your skin and makes it strong and soft. I would highly recommend for people with skin problem like eczema and acne to go to Onsen. I wouldn’t use the soap provided by the facilities, the skin absorb the products you use on it and then go in your body just like the things you eat. So technically you shouldn’t wash yourself with something you wouldn’t eat. I personally use Alep soap, but if you are sensitive or you want the perfect skin you should ban soaps and use a brush with water only. Using a brush is the most efficient way to clean your skin and will cure most of skin problems (for sure your diet is also responsible of skin problems so you should avoid milk and gluten and increase your fruits and vegetables consumption. Today Gluten is known as unhealthy but it is still hard to admit it about milk, especially in Japan, so here is an interesting studies : http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1610-0387.2009.07019.x/full ).
Did you catch a cold? The heat from sauna kills most of the virus and will relieve you from symptoms of the common cold, obstructive lung disease and flower allergies. It also increases the heat tolerance and improves performance in endurance sport, if you use the cold bath; your muscle won’t be soar anymore so it’s perfect for sport recuperation. It also helps people with articulations problems.
The most positive aspect of Onsen is it effect on stress, best way to relax and perfect for the peace of mind. It will help you to fight against depression and improve the quality of sleep so you will feel less tired. It’s also perfect for recuperation after childbirth.
The question people ask me sometimes: Do you lose weight by going to the Onsen ? Going to the sauna, you will lose up to 800 grams of water. You don’t lose weight directly BUT Onsen helps you to remove the stress from your body and consequently improve the overall functions of elimination process, so if you go regularly it will help you to lose weight. The best way is to pair Onsen with increasing your consummation of fruits and vegetables then you will lose excess weight easily. It also works in the opposite way. If you are too skinny you may recover appetite.
For people who are interested, here is a full study about Sauna benefit : http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/16/3/215.pdf
Why do I regularly go to Onsen ? Sauna and Onsen are part of a healthy lifestyle.
Here are some rules and tips for you ! But I strongly advise you to watch around you to imitate locals.
You want to make sure to enter the right bath, Men entrance should be blue with this kanji : "男" and the female one red with :"女". I almost mistake once because the Onsen I usually go to interchanged women and men place…
You should drink some water to prevent dehydration; you’ll find water inside the bath.
Don’t lose your locker key; keep it at your wrist or ankle anytime.
Take with you towels, toilet bag and a plastic bag to put your wet towel and dirty cloth in after the bath.
Don’t bring accessories like jewelry, glasses or watch.
Tie your hair if it is long.
Do not be drunk or full (after big lunch or dinner). Walk slowly because the floor is very slippery.
Don’t put your face towel in bath but on your head (Japanese style).
You should sit while showering (Yes it’s difficult to reach everywhere but you shouldn’t splash neighbors).
You shouldn’t speak loud.
You shouldn’t put your head under water.
No soap in the bath, no swim in the bath
No videos, no photos, no smoking.
You shouldn’t take a bath if you have your period. ＼(◎o◎)／！
And most of the places you shouldn’t wear tattoos.
So where to go in Fukuoka ? Most of Onsen aren't natural anymore, for exemple in Fukuoka, most of the Onsen use water from Oita. Here is a list of Onsen you can enjoy in a day trip in Fukuoka city center :
Yu no Hana, in Tenjin is for me the most typical onsen place of fukuoka, less fancy but very japanese, its also one of the cheapest place and well equipped. My personal recommendation.
Entrance : 720 yen
Namiha no yu, At Hakata port tower, more fancy, quieter, it’s a nice super Sento to relax after or before enjoying Fukuoka view from the tower. This Onsen also propose an option to access 6 different sauna from 26 to 90 degrees. Very nice to enjoy in couple. Between 800 and 850 yen.
住所: 〒812-0021 福岡県福岡市博多区築港本町13-1
Yaoji hotel Onsen : it propose a Onsen for everyone, small and inside only, the water and sauna are hotter than usual so you can feel super relax, the good point is the proximity to Hakata station. Price is 750 yen without towels.
所在地： 〒812-0011 福岡県福岡市 博多区博多駅前4−9−2 八百治センタービル
Manyo no Yu : Just next to Fukuoka airport, it is a large complex that propose rooms to stay and also has a very nice onsen, I didn't went myself yet but people recommend it a lot. you can take a shuttle bus from Hakata station, the price is pretty high around 1800 yen.
AddressFukuoka Fukuoka-shi Hakata-ku Yutaka 2-3-66
For many weeks I have been asking a lot about Onsen around me, there are many place in Kyushu who propose high quality Onsens. If you go to Saga, you should try Takeo Onsen, Ureshino Onsen or even Furuyu Onsen. For many Japanese people, Unzen Jigoku onsen in Nagasaki is one of the best of the country. Oita propose the main place for Onsen in Kyushu with Yufuin and Beppu, in Kagoshima you can have a sand bath Onsen at Ibusuki. Kumamoto also have a popular Onsen complex named Kurokawa.
So many places to discover in Kyushu. I will try to give more information about those places in a Future blog.
I hope everyone who visit Fukuoka will try to experience a nice Onsen. See you very soon at SUiTO FUKUOKA.
Pictures from :