What are onsen benefits?
I thought about this when I was planning my first onsen visit!
I was blown away by how dipping in onsen brings numerous benefits to your mind and body!
I bet you are looking for the safest and most adventurous places to experience onsen benefits with your loved ones. I know I was looking for this when I was planning my trip.
If you are new here, Hi, I am Aisha Preece ! I am an avid solo female traveller and I love helping other females travel safer and better 🙂
As you know, while Iceland has its hot springs, Switzerland has its terme baden, and Hungary has its furdo, Japan is known for onsen.
Natural hot springs, known as onsen by the Japanese, have been considered a gift of the gods.
This is because onsen has been proven to have lots of benefits, such as relaxation and healing properties, for centuries.
In ancient times, back in the legendary samurai warrior’s era, warriors would deep themselves in the onsen to heal their wounds after a battle.
Lack of information on onsen benefits? Worry not! Continue reading as I share with you the benefits you can get from steaming yourself like happy dumplings!
Now for the answer to the main question of what are the benefits of soaking yourself in an onsen. Read on !
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Quick note ! Below are some experiences in Japan that everyone should participate in and experience when in the land of the rising sun…
- Firstly the most awaited season, the Sakura season. It is one of the most beautiful seasons and also the peak period during the year.
- Besides, you must also visit Japan’s iconic mountain, Mt Fuji, as it is considered one of the most beautiful conical volcanoes in the world.
- If you are a foodie and love experiencing different kinds of food, ensure you book a food tour to experience the best classic Japanese food. Booking a food tour will take the stress out of language barriers and also save you time from planning and researching.
- If you are someone into culture and history, visit this most-visited and celebrated temple in Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera Temple. The surroundings and the view of this temple will make you fall in love with it immediately. Make sure it is on your list when visiting Japan.
9 Health Benefits Of An Onsen
There’s surely a reason why Onsen has been around for more than 1,000 years since the samurai warrior era.
Besides, the Japanese use them daily instead of bathing in their own homes, and tourists flock to hot springs when visiting Japan.
Onsen’s therapeutic power is well known in Japanese society and worldwide.
As we all know, it is a great experience and offers many benefits to our mind, body, and soul. Let’s discuss the health benefits of soaking in this miracle water.
1. Increase Blood Circulation
Are hot springs good for you? YES!
As most of the hot springs are located close to or within volcanic areas, the water of the hot springs contains high minerals that give us thousands of benefits.
One of the onsen benefits that you can obtain by soaking yourself in onsen is it helps to improve your blood circulation.
Skeptical about how it can improve blood circulation?
As we soak ourselves in the hot water, our body becomes warm.
Thus, blood vessels will be expanded and boost blood flow, which improves metabolism and blood circulation.
Besides, the natural elements from the hot water, such as sodium bicarbonate and calcium, get absorbed into our bodies as we bathe.
These minerals play an important role in providing better blood circulation, as they help increase blood flow and the amount of oxygen in our blood.
2. Reduce Stress and Sleep Better
I mean – everyone could use better sleep, right?
There are more benefits of onsen, such as it helps to reduce stress and sleep better.
Stress has become part of everyone’s life. In this era, stress has been part of our life.
Due to stress, we will have sleep issues, and it is one of the main contributing factors to other health issues.
When someone is stressed, the body produces adrenaline and cortisol, primary stress hormones.
The relaxing effect of a hot spring is like mother nature giving you a warm hug, making you feel in a zen mode or a stage of mindfulness.
It is also the perfect place to disconnect from the world and be alone with ourselves, surrounded by the most panoramic view.
Imagining this itself gives me so much peace.
Besides, onsen can help improve your breathing patterns, which may help lead to better sleep.
It is indeed a natural medication for your sleep issues. This is proven scientifically as well.
3. Relieve Pain – Joint and Muscle Pain
Another benefit is relieving joint and muscle pain. How does immersing yourself in a hot spring help in reducing joint and muscle pain?
This is because as you immerse yourself in hot water, your body temperature increases.
When your body temperature increases, your blood vessels widen and increase circulation.
As a result, less swelling and pain and increased mobility.
It is a remedy that gives you gain without pain! Just soak yourself in this miracle water from Mother Nature.
Besides, minerals such as sodium and chloride are said to help ease muscles and joint pains as well. How amazing, right? Mother Nature is truly a healer.
It is not a myth. There’s a scientific explanation behind all the benefits of this miracle from the earth.
The benefits of onsen baths do not stop here. Continue reading to understand more about Japanese onsen benefits.
4. Treat Skin Problems
Onsen is also known as “Beautiful Skin” or “Princess Bath.” This means it treats skin problems. These were not just folktales. It is proven.
Minerals such as silica found in hot springs help to smoothen or soften dry and rough skin.
Besides, onsen containing a high level of sulfur has been recommended for people suffering from eczema, acne, and psoriasis.
After soaking yourself in this precious thermal water, your skin will thank you!
5. Burn Calories
Feeling guilty after indulging in a hearty meal? Fret not!
Just soak yourself in onsen! Minerals such as chloride help in improving digestion. It helps to speed up your body’s metabolism and burn calories.
For example, if you soak yourself in an onsen for approximately 20 minutes at a temperature of 42 degrees Celsius, it is said to burn over 220 kilocalories.
There are more hot springs health benefits, but those listed are the top ones.
Beauty Benefits Of Onsen Water
As mentioned earlier in the article, hot springs contain plenty of amazing minerals that help to remove dead cells, stimulate blood circulation, and make your skin smooth and clear.
It is a dream of everyone to have radiant, smooth, and glowing skin.
The ‘hot water of beauty’ has been a blessing in disguise since ancient times. Let’s find out what makes this hot water of beauty so exquisite.
6. Clearer skin
Sometimes, when I feel my pores are clogged, I will steam my face to unclog them, as it helps to remove dirt, oil, and dead cells.
Smooth skin and clear pores – here I come!
This method, using onsen water, was used in ancient times.
When you soak or immerse yourself in a hot spring, the hot water will open up the pores. It also helps flush out impurities, just like sweating in a sauna.
Once your pores are open, your skin will absorb all the elemental goodness from the onsen water.
Besides that, hot spring has this amazing mineral known as sulfur which is an amazing mineral that helps in fighting breakouts.
It is also a common ingredient in most acne treatments recommended by dermatologists.
Everyone wants youthful and plump skin.
As you know and are aware of the danger that free radicals bring to the skin, they can damage the cell membranes and DNA through the oxidation process.
This magical water does the exact opposite.
They have these components known as antioxidative and oxidation-reducing, which help reduce skin cell corrosion and keep the skin youthful and fresh.
Hydrated skin always looks younger. It is the truth! When your skin is well hydrated, you will look fresh and younger.
If you have dry and flaky skin, do not panic! The steam of the onsen water hydrates the skin and works as an amazing natural moisturizer for your entire body.
9. Skin Healing
If you are obsessed with beauty and wondering if is onsen good for skin, the answer is a big YES!
Soaking in a hot spring is a gift to your body as it gives many health benefits. Another amazing benefit of onsen water is that it helps in skin healing.
For example, bathing in carbonate ion-enriched onsen water helps curb inflammatory reactions and accelerate wound healing.
This will also speed up the healing process of skin wounds.
Besides that, it is also proven to ease bruises, dermatitis, eczema, and other chronic skin diseases.
It is indeed a miracle water, and it remains a beloved and favorite destination for many travelers to Japan.
Why Does Onsen Have A Potency To Heal Sickness And Fatigue Of Body And Mind?
In Japan, there’s a culture known as ‘Toji’. The meaning of ‘Toji’ is a cure in Onsen.
Before the 1970s, when medicine and prescription were not common, people used to heal the fatigue of body and mind by staying at an onsen for one week up to one month.
Now you must be thinking about how Onsen heal fatigue, body, and mind. It is due to the combination of 5 elements.
Below are those elements.
1. “Pharmacological Effect” By Efficacy Components
As you are aware, what makes onsen so magical are the elements that are found in onsen water.
They are rich in minerals such as sodium chloride, calcium chloride, and sulfate ions.
When you dip yourself in an onsen, a vast amount of sodium chloride components cover the body like a shield and bring the same effect as a sauna.
And for all the women out there, soaking in onsen water helps to moisten skin as well.
Besides that, the sulfur element in onsen helps in water abrasions, burns, atopic dermatitis, heat rash, and eczema.
These are all the healing properties of hot springs that make it so magical.
Other important minerals such as calcium and magnesium are also found abundantly in Onsen water.
The benefit of this mineral is it helps relieve symptoms of neuralgia and arthritis.
2. “Thermal Effect” By The Heat Of Onsen
The next is the thermal effect. The thermal effect helps to warm the body.
As the body gets warm, it improves blood circulation and increases metabolism rate. It will have a brilliant effect on both your health and body.
3. “Buoyancy Effect” And “Pressure Effect” During Bathing
The next benefits of hot springs are the buoyancy effect and pressure effect.
The buoyancy effect does not only apply to onsen. It also applies to pools or when you enter any water.
As you immerse yourself in water, your body will immediately become lighter.
This is because the density of water exerts an upward pressure on our body, which makes us feel lighter in water.
This will make us feel a sense of relaxation of body and mind.
In Ayurveda, the legs are known as our second heart. This is because one-third of the total blood volume gathers in the legs, and it is sent back to the heart.
When you immerse yourself in water, it creates pressure.
This pressure pushes your blood through your veins effortlessly, improving your metabolism, cardiovascular function, and lymph drainage.
4. “Changing Environment Effect” By Changing Environment.
In our regular lives, when we feel stressed or drained out, we tend to go somewhere to release the stress.
Once we are in a different environment, we tend to feel rejuvenated. This is because of the effect of the change in the environment.
When you go to Onsen, you will experience the same. Most Onsen is located in the most scenic places full of nature.
The effect of change in the environment is beyond words.
Hope this clears all your doubts about onsen benefits.
What Are The Side Effects Of The Onsen?
As mentioned earlier, onsen health benefits are magical, but if one oversoaks themselves, there are side effects. Below are some side effects of the onsen.
1. Heat overexposure
You can get dehydrated and heat exhaustion from soaking yourself too long in the onsen.
This is why many onsen will warn you not to soak yourself too long in the onsen.
To avoid dehydration, you are not allowed to drink before bathing.
2. High blood pressure.
If you have high blood pressure, consult your doctor first before soaking in hot water. This is because a bath in a hot spring increases your blood pressure.
3. Infectious diseases.
As many onsens are not chlorinated, infectious diseases can be easily transmitted via hot water. If you have deep cuts, you should not visit an onsen.
Below are some Japanese onsen rules and etiquette for using hot springs in Japan.
1. No drinking before bathing.
No one wants an intoxicated person wandering around the facility and creating a nuisance.
Besides, there will be signs around the hot spring warning you not to drink and bathe.
2. Go naked. No swimwear is allowed.
It is the Japanese culture to go naked on the onsen as they consider clothing, towels, and any other garments to be dirty.
If you feel shy or hesitant, don’t worry. You can check out for private onsen.
3. Modesty is appreciated.
Modesty is expected because nudity is required.
You will need to use a small towel to casually hide your private region when you are going to the shower room from the onsen or vice versa.
Don’t worry. You will not be the only one doing that. Everyone at the Onsen will be doing the same.
4. Be clean.
You will need to wash your body before entering into onsen. You are prohibited from entering the onsen with soap, dirt, or sweat on your body.
Take this as a chance to scrub your body and prepare yourself for the best full-body skin treatment, as the onsen has great minerals for your skin!
So embrace this moment!
5. No running and no swimming.
The major purpose of soaking yourself in onsen is to relax yourself. Thus, no swimming is allowed.
Besides, the floor will be slippery because of the ingredient of Onsen. So no running.
6. Do not put the towel inside the bathtub.
Towels are not allowed as they are considered dirty.
Thus, it should not come into contact with the onsen water.
7. Do not go underwater or get your hair in the water.
It is forbidden to dunk your head into the onsen water. This is because it prevents mouth germs or saliva from floating around.
It is to prevent oils and residual grooming products from dirtying the water and also to prevent hair from blocking the bath drains.
Best Onsens In Japan
After reading about onsen benefits, you are triggered to experience it on your own. You are looking out for the best onsens in Japan.
Worry not! I have listed the top 5 best onsens in Japan to experience and unwind with your family, friends, or better half.
1. Kinosaki Onsen, Toyooka
This is one of my favorite onsen in Japan.
As a non-Japanese, it can be quite intimidating when the signboards aren’t always translated into other languages, and no-tattoo policies mean the hot springs aren’t open to everyone.
But it’s exceptional for Kinosaki Onsen. The maps are all translated into English, and it is a tattoo-friendly onsen. All the seven onsens! Big relief for a tourist like me.
This place also provides authentic experiences such as guided zazen meditations and green tea picking.
The plus point is that the guides are all English-speaking guides!
It is one of the most photogenic towns with an ambiance that radiates romantic old-world charm. (Love this place!)
How to get there: Three hours by train from Osaka or two-and-a-half hours via limited express train from Kyoto.
2. Beppu Onsen, Oita
Beppu is known as the hot spring capital of Japan. It is home to eight distinct onsens, each with public baths and ryokan.
For all the onsen-enthusiastic, Beppu is their favorite place as it offers rare mud baths, steam baths, and sand baths.
Tips: Try out the Hell Tour! It is indeed hell! Hahaha! It takes you to eight of the hottest onsen in Beppu. The given nickname is ‘Jigoku’ (burning hell).
How to get there: If you are from Tokyo, take the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen to Kokura Station.
Then, transfer to the Sonic Limited Express bound for Beppu Station.
3. Kurokawa Onsen
Another personal favorite and it is one of the best onsens in Japan as they have purposefully maintained a pleasant and traditional atmosphere.
Besides, the attractive town, with shops and cafes lined across the river, is also known for the outstanding outdoor baths (rotenburo) of its ryokan, some of which are located right beside a gushing river.
The onsen therapy over here is said to be beneficial for nerve pain.
How to get there: There are no direct trains or buses to Kurokawa Onsen. The only way to get there is to catch a bus from Fukuoka Airport.
The journey is approximately two-and-a-half hours long.
4. Ginzan Onsen, Yamagata
If you are looking to experience outdoor winter bathing, Ginza Onsen is the best place to go.
Cold and fresh air on your upper body and face makes for an enjoyable contrast to the warmth of the water. Perfecto!
Tip: As this is one of the hot spots during winter, ensure that you book this place in advance. Advisable 3 months earlier.
The scenery of this place is something that you will remember for the rest of your life.
How to get there: It is approximately 3.5 hours from Tokyo Station to Oishida Station by Yamagata Shinkansen, and then 40 minutes by bus to Ginzan Onsen bus stop.
5. Fuji Kawaguchiko Onsen
Visiting Japan during cheery blossom? Fuji Kawaguchiko Onsen is the best option to visit during cherry blossom as it has the best scenic view during this time.
Besides, it is located at the base of Mount Fuji, so you can get the perfect view of this symbolic mount from Kawaguchiko.
Besides, there are several bath houses and ryokan offer indoor and outdoor bathing.
How to get there: You can get to the place by hopping onto a bus from Tokyo.
What Is An Onsen?
You may have heard that Onsen provides lots of benefits to the user. But you might be wondering what onsen is. In simple words, it is a hot spring.
Bear in mind it is not only soaking yourself in hot water. There’s more to it. They are rich in beneficial minerals, and the earth heats the water.
After dipping yourself in onsen, you can feel the charm of the Japanese onsen.
There are two types of onsen, public onsen and private onsen.
The private onsens are operated by Ryokan, and they are quite exclusive and require reservations.
If you are going with your family, look out for kazoku buro (family onsen); if you are going with your partner, look for kashikiri buro (private onsen).
If you don’t mind sharing or being naked with another gender, you can look out for mixed-gender onsens, known as konyoku.
FAQs on Onsen Benefits
Is Onsen Good For Your Skin?
Yes! Onsen is good for your skin! Onsen water obtains its healing aspects from the mineral content in the water which improves skin conditions.
Silica, which helps to soften the skin, and sulfur, which aids in skin problems such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis, are found in onsen water.
Besides, the sulfur also assists in helping cuts and wounds recover faster.
Is It Good To Go To Onsen Everyday?
It is recommended to bathe in onsen two to three times per day as a rule of thumb.
Although onsen is good for our health, bathing in onsen too much in one day will put a lot of stress on our body and possibly cause conflicting results.
How Long Should You Stay In Onsen?
Commonly, around 30-40 minutes in onsen is sufficient enough to obtain the benefits of the minerals. Don’t stay in the onsen for long periods so that you won’t overdo it.
If the onsen is hot, don’t force yourself. Apart from this, take breaks in between when you need to be resting on the edge.
Should You Shower After Onsen?
It is suggested not to take a shower after you have finished bathing in onsen.
This is because the healing elements in the water will get washed off by the shower and as such, the effects will decrease.
However, if you have sensitive skin, you can clean yourself with fresh water.
Who Should Avoid Onsen?
For people who have chronic bronchitis, fever or difficulty in breathing, stable angina, or recurring chest pain, it is highly advised to avoid bathing in an onsen.
This is because bathing in onsen could lead to severe issues with dehydration or thrombosis.
Now that you have a better understanding of onsen benefits, how about planning a trip to experience a unique vacation as a couple or family and experience the benefits of onsen?
Onsen is not only about body self-healing. It also provides an opportunity for you to experience up close to this unique Japanese bathing culture.
If you’ve already been to any of the onsens and if there are more onsen benefits that we could add to the list please share your experience with us in the comments below.
We’d love to hear from you!