Bathing, whether in a picturesque open-air onsen in the mountains or a lively community bath in the city is a unique and important part of Japanese culture.

Entering The Changeroom

Japanese Ryokan Onsen Town
Japanese Ryokan Onsen Town

Your first job is to make sure you are entering the correct changeroom.

Manners in the washing area

Be careful not to splash hot water from the shower on people around you in the washing area.

Pour some hot water over your body before taking a bath.

There are two reasons for this: one is to get your body accustomed to the hot water, and the other is to wash off the sweat and dirt from your body. It is always good etiquette to wash off the sweat before soaking in the bathtub.

The basic rule when soaking in an onsen or sento bath is not to pollute or dirty the water. Let’s take a look at the manners when soaking in the bathtub based on this point.

When soaking in the bathtub, start from the area on the opposite side from where the water comes out of the bathtub. The area where the hot water is coming out is considered the cleanest, so check the exit of the hot water before getting into the bathtub before taking a soak.

Getting into the Onsen

Dogo Onsen Annex Asuka no Yu
Dogo Onsen Annex Asuka no Yu

After cleaning your body, you can now take a dip in the onsen. Take it at your own pace so that you do not fall over.

If you have an open-air bath, it is also recommended to enjoy it at this time. Although it is not necessary to take an open-air bath as part of the procedure, an open-air bath gives you a sense of openness that will refresh both your mind and body.

Bundle long hair with an elastic band.

Onsen Dos And Donts
Onsen Dos And Donts

If hair is soaked or falls into the bathtub, dandruff and dust will fall into the bathtub. Therefore, to avoid soaking your hair in the bathtub, bundle long hair with an elastic band or roll it up with a towel.

Do not put your hand towel in the bathtub.

Many people use towels when moving around the bathhouse to cover their bodies. It is also important to avoid putting such towels directly into the bathtub.

Towels often contain bacteria, which may contaminate the hot water when placed in the bathtub. Like towels, bathing in a bathing suit is also strictly prohibited except for some outdoor mixed-sex onsens.

You can fold your hand towel and put it on your head or rest it on a rock next to where you are soaking.

Don’t Wash Your Face In The Bath

Onsen At Hakone
Onsen At Hakone

Washing your face or rubbing your body in a bathtub is a no go. The bathtub is for soaking and warming the body, not for washing. You need to be careful not to drop any dirt or dust in the bathtub, which may cause discomfort to other users.

Manners in the changing rooms

Dogo Onsen Public Bathhouse Change Rooms
Dogo Onsen Public Bathhouse Change Rooms

When leaving the bathhouse, wipe the water off your body with a wrung towel in front of the changing area. This is to avoid making the floor of the changeroom wet. In order to keep the changing rooms clean, please wring out a towel and wipe your body thoroughly before leaving the bathhouse.

Don’t Use Your Phone

The use of cell phones and smartphones in the bathhouse and changing rooms is strictly prohibited. Even if you are just checking messages it’s best to wait until you are outside the changeroom area.

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