Thursday, September 18, 2008

JJNN Thursday: Culture - 09

Welcome again to JJNN for Thursday September 18th, 2008. Today we will be talking about going to hot springs in Japan.

I am so happy that it is starting to get cool in the mornings and evenings. This is really my favorite time of year. A little hot during the day, but not too cold at night. Perfect really.

This time of year is (for me) the start of the hot spring season. There is nothing better than laying naked in a hot bath when the air around you is chilly. Especially if you had to go on a long hike to actually reach the hot spring. Also, if you can, drinking while taking a hot bath is great.

There are a couple of steps that you have to take to take a bath in a hot spring in Japan. The first one is probably the easiest one: finding a hot spring. Hot springs pop up like weeds in most places. Once you find your hot spring you take off your shoes and put them in a shoe locker. Take the key from the shoe locker to the front desk and pay for your hot spring experience.

At this point the person at the front desk will take your shoe locker key and give you a wrist band. The wrist band will have a number on it and a key hidden in it. You have to find your way to the changing area appropriate for your sex. Don't follow the colors because this could get you in trouble. Sometimes blue is on the female's door. Just watch to see who goes into what side.

After you get to the changing room find the locker that has the same number as the one on your wrist band. Use the key to open the locker. Get undressed and throw all your clothes into the locker. Use the smaller towel that the hot spring staff provides you with to hide what God gave you and lock up the locker.

Now it is time to get wet. Before you actually job into the hot spring you have to get clean. Yeah. I know it doesn't really make sense. You are going to the hot springs to get clean, but you have to get clean before you get in. This is because if you clean yourself with a shower before you enter the hot springs the water will remain clean longer. Plus, this is the way Japanese people take showers as well (they keep the same bath water for the whole family).

Now that you are clean it is time to get into the hot spring! At most of the hot spring places there are both inside and outside baths. Both of them are relaxing, but I think the outside ones are much better. Like I said before the cold air and the hot water is great. I love it when it is snowing while I am in the hot water. Plus, if you find a place with a good view, it makes the experience all the better. Watch the clip below and just think about being in one of those baths.

Depending on the hot spring you may get a robe to wear after you dry off and leave the baths. You can put it on and wander around the hot spring building. After you are done that you can get changed into your street clothes, hand in the towels and get your shoe box keep back. It always feels good to leave with that warm hot spring aura wrapped about my body.

Any way, it is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 温泉(おんせん). It is pronounced onsen and means hot spring. I think maybe I will go to an onsen some time this weekend. It will be fun.

That's it for today. See you next time at JJNN.

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