Maybe you are feeling a little hesitant about the idea of sharing a bath with or being naked in front of strangers but don’t let that prevent you from trying onsen!  It is a cultural experience you shouldn’t skip!

Just relax and enjoy yourself. Remember you will never see these people again. ?

Picture yourself in an open-air bath watching the snow fall and feeling the warmth seeping into your bones and all the tension leaving your body as you soak in the mineral-rich water.

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

Here are some rules and etiquettes to remember when you visit an onsen:


  • Remove shoes before entering the change room.
  • Wash and rinse your body thoroughly before entering the onsen.
  • If your hair is long, tie it up.
  • Water temperature is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so make sure you enter the bath slowly, feet in first and slowly lower yourself in.
  • Drink plenty of water and come out of the bath every 15-20 minutes, especially if you have diabetes or heart diseases.
  • Use the provided small towel (the only thing you can carry with you to the bath) to cover yourself when you are walking around or after getting out of the tub.
  • Wear the provided yukata (浴衣, casual cotton summer kimono) around the hotel.


  • Don’t wear a swimsuit or wrap a big towel around the body.  If you are uncomfortable with the idea of being completely naked, there are also private baths for an extra fee at some places.
  • Try not to show your tattoo, as it is still not acceptable in many hot springs.
  • Don’t jump in or swim.
  • Don’t go in right after you eat or after you consume alcohol.
  • Don’t put your towel into the onsen water.  Put in on your head, like the Japanese do or on the side of the bath.
  • Don’t take pictures (…or do it discreetly when no one is around 🙂 )
  • Don’t rinse after soaking so your body can better absorb the mineral.


  • A curtain is hung at the entrance of the bath to distinct men and women.
  • When putting on your yukata,  make sure the left side of the dress is wrapped over the right side – the reversed way, right over left, is how the Japanese people dress the corpses.

Spending a night at a hot spring ryokan is an experience not to be missed when visiting Japan.  Try it and you will become an-onsen goer too!

A foot bath at a train station. 30 more minutes until the next train? Sit down, relax and soak your feet.





Author: Pearl

I have always loved traveling but did not venture out on my own until I was in my mid-20s. After my first solo adventure to Vietnam, I have fallen in love with the freedom and exhilaration of traveling alone. I would like to use this blog to document my travels and record memorable stories I do not want to forget. It will be a platform to share useful information and hear about others' experiences and thoughts, not necessarily about travels but also on life in general. Live a simple and meaningful life, enjoy learning along the way, travel the world and explore the unknown!

2 thoughts on “ONSEN TIPS”

  1. I love the idea of a foot bath at the train station!!

    Question if you can’t show you tattoos how can you cover them if you don’t wear something??

    1. Even if places do allow tattoos, it is better not to flash it as Japanese people associate tattoos with yakuzas (mafia). Let’s say you have a tattoo on your shoulder, you can maybe throw a towel over it.

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