Oct 24, 2011 19:12 댓글 없음


Onsens and the City

Looking for an escape from the bitter winter wind? How about a long soak in mineral-rich, skin-softening onsen (hot spring)? This issue Fukuoka Now presents a quick guide to the various waters, baths, and a few select onsen within or close by the city.

For onsen lovers, Kyushu is a true paradise. Be it Aso or Beppu, Kurokawa or Ibusuki, Kyushu abounds with towns whose very names are synonymous with hot, soothing natural baths. And each with their own distinctive feel: steaming onsen, riverside onsen, mud onsen, carbon onsen, milky-white onsen, red onsen. In other words, something that will bring even your wildest onsen fantasies to life. The health benefits are not negligible either. Depending on the type, onsen are said to improve your skin, heal various diseases and lower sensitivity to the cold. Still, putting all possible medical benefits aside, the reason Japanese love onsen is the simple joy of letting all the cares melt off their bodies as they enter a state of total relaxation, usually in groups.

Traveling to an onsen town on a weekend trip with family, friends or even coworkers is simply a part of Japanese culture. In the last few years, however, a new culture of onsen has taken root in the cities. In addition to the old onsen towns of old, new urban bathing facilities have been sprouting up everywhere. Facilities housing indoor and outdoor baths of every conceivable variety now allow city-dwellers to enjoy Japan’s onsen culture closer to home. Hot springs bubble up from surprising places, and facilities have been able to create even the subtle touches that once only existed in the countryside. Whether you want to get away for the weekend, introduce your friends to the joys of Japanese bathing, or simply need a good soak on your way back from work, Fukuoka’s urban baths can fulfill your every need. Read more to see where you can go to heat up your chilled bones this winter!

Onsen water varieties
Onsen water exists in infinite varieties. Here are nine different kinds of onsen for you to try.

Basic onsen
Your standard onsen experience, with colorless, clear water having no smell or flavor. Soft on the skin with no weird surprises. Found in many typical onsen areas.

CO2 onsen
Thanks to the magical power of carbon dioxide, bubbles appear all over the body upon entry. Fairly unusual in Japan.

Hydrogen Carbonate onsen
No smell nor flavor. Thanks to a high calcium concentration, it is immediately recognizable by a pale brown residue that clings to the pipes. Said to be the メwater of beauty.モ

Chloride Salt onsen
The most common onsen in Japan. Salty to the taste, its high salt concentration helps bathers maintain body heat.

Sulfuric acid onsen
With a tinge of yellow, it may seem like regular water but its smell and taste are quite bitter. Helps lower blood pressure.

Iron onsen
Although clear as it flows from the source, it oxidizes upon contact with the air and turns red-brown. Even your towel will take on a red tinge.

Sulfur onsen
When it hits the air, the water’s solutes precipitate, oxidize and turn yellow. Easily recognized by its distinctive smell of rotting eggs.

Acid onsen
Harshly acidic and fairly pungent. Has a great antibacterial effects and stimulates for the skin. Definitely not for drinking.

Radioactive onsen
Another scary-named onsen, it contains colorless radon and thoron. It has a calming effect, and is good for restoring psychological balance.

Bathing styles
Not only the water, but the constructions of baths and bathing methods also vary considerably. For exampleノ

Like any good product, onsen are always diversifying. The range of bath types from which to choose is truly exhilarating. Enormous hollowed-out stones, hinokiburo, with their lovely wood smell, former barrels of alcohol, and gigantic pots are just a few of the more eccentric objects commonly used as baths. Other interesting bathing methods include utaseyu, a waterfall-type bath, メlying baths,モ to be taken lying down, deep standing baths usually over a meter deep, and even メelectric baths,モ through which low-frequency current runs. To these, add the outdoor pleasure of mountain-stream onsen, where cold water springs up near riverbanks, as well as cave onsen. For the true onsen connoisseur, there is no limit to the pleasures yet to be discovered.

XXXXX Taking the plunge? XXXXX

Before your get steamy hot and wet in these waters review please review these points on bathing Japanese style.

Don’t was your body inside the baths. Wash and rinse before bathing.
Towells should never touch the bath water. Only towels wrapped on heads are OK.
Women with long hair must tie their hair up.

Swimwear or any other kind of clothing is not permitted in baths.

Oils are not permitted inside saunas.

To prevent burns take off jewellery and eyeglasses before entering the sauna.

Dry yourself off before returning to the changing room.

Persons with tattos are allowed to use any bathing facility.

Women must remove all makeup before entering baths.

Drinking alcohol before bathing is dangerous.

The baths can be very hot. Splash bath water on yourself prevent shock.

Caution! Don’t stay too long in the hot baths.

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