Welcome, dear fans of the.ego.tripper. Welcome to Japan! Not that I am actually in Japan at the moment. Well, not physically. Mentally I’m enjoying the ultimate Japanese pleasure: ONSEN! Yes, that’s right, while writing this I’m actually dreaming of taking a hot bath with other men. Doesn’t that sound strange? No worries, I will explain…
So, onsen. If you have no idea what I’m talking about: onsen are Japanese public baths with water sourced from hot springs. Already sounds good huh. But wait, it gets better. Well, for you. Not for me. I’ve been banned for life. Anyway, Japan is full of onsen and the Japanese onsen are full of Japanese people. And the occasional tourist. I should say: or the occasional tourist. Because Japanese people generally don’t like to share an onsen with a tourist. And that’s all my fault! Again, I will explain.
If you go to Japan for the first time, there are some things you should know. And there will be some things you won’t know. And you will probably not have a clue what the f+ck is going on most of the time. That’s because Japanese people are strange. Sorry, I don’t mean to sound xenophobic, it’s just the way it is. Or maybe, just maybe, WE are weird. Yes, that could be true as well. Anyway, going into a Japanese onsen for the first time is like eating your first real Japanese breakfast in a traditional Japanese hotel. You have no clue what’s going on. For the breakfast part, you will have no idea what is edible and what not. You’ll get a bowl of hot water, a fish, cubes of orange and green stuff, stuff that looks like seaweed, stuff that looks like stuff you’ve never even seen before. And you will think you have to make a soup out of all these ingredients. And you will put the stuff in the boiling water and you will eat/drink it. And people will stare at you. And they will shake their heads. Perhaps the children at the other table will point and laugh, but mostly you will feel stared at. And frowned upon. Yes, frowned upon.
Same thing happens in an onsen. Unless you’re lucky and there are no Japanese people taking a bath when you want to get in, you will be frowned upon. Because you don’t know the ONSEN ETIQUETTE. Yes, there is such a thing as an onsen etiquette. And if you don’t respect this etiquette, Japanese men (or women) will frown. And they will shake their heads, look at you in disgust and leave the onsen. Which – if you really don’t give a shit – could be nice. But that’s not how it’s supposed to go. If you don’t want to piss off the Japanese bathers, please follow these rules:
1. Enter the changing room through the appropriate door. This is where the troubles can start. Japanese women generally don’t want to see your penis or hairy ass.
2. Remove your clothes and put them in the basket or locker provided. Take only the small wash towel. Sounds fair enough.
3. Keeping your privates covered with the wash towel, enter the bathing area closing any door behind you. Done!
4. Wash or rinse your body briefly using the showers/faucets before entering the first time. Very important! Don’t just jump into the water, causing a mini tsunami. And don’t make a joke about tsunamis while bathing.
5. Soak for a short while being careful not to get too hot.
6. Wash your body at the faucets. Now do it properly. With soap and shower gel! Sit on the stool and start cleaning every corner of your body.
7. Re-enter the bath and soak some more. But don’t play around, don’t splash water, don’t swim. Don’t really do anything. Onsen are for relaxing.
8. After your last dip in the water, do not rinse again.
Easy isn’t it? But you can imagine how this goes wrong, can’t you? Shaking your European sized penis before jumping in unwashed and doing a backstroke across the onsen, IS FROWNED UPON. Also towel slapping bare Japanese asses after bathing, is considered uncool. For some reason. Strange people, those Japanese…
Altough, they might actually have a point. Man, look at these onsen. I really should go back. Now just pray they will let me in again.
(pictures (c) Foter)
Also check out this blogpost on Montenegro: