Every place in the world has its own etiquette, specially for the foreigners who come from diverse social and cultural backgrounds. Like in some countries shaking hands with women is not encouraged, while in most countries it is but a common ritual.
Japan, is country of traditions and etiquette. It takes time to understand these customs and traditions when visiting Japanese families or special places. One of these places include the hot springs that abound the volcanic rich country.
There are more than 25,000 naturally-occurring mineral hot springs which help power 3,000 spa resorts across the country. The area around Kyoto, Japan’s former imperial capital, is home to more than a dozen hot springs, called onsen. One of the most popular is Kurama Onsen, a peaceful outdoor bath located less than an hour from downtown Kyoto. Located in a lovely modern ryokan (traditional inn), with stunning mountain views, Kurama is surrounded by Japanese cedar trees. Traditional ryokan with hot spring baths include Gyozanen and Seryo, two beautifully designed resorts in Ohara, a rural district north of downtown, near the Sanzenin Temple.
The onsens offer many health benefits as the mineral in water washes away many ailments naturally and give a refreshing feeling. The minerals in the hot sprin water are best for skin health, while the heat of water during the spring-baths can reduce inflammation and pain, and boost the immune system. Japanese onsen normally have temperatures around 25C, though some get as hot as 100C.
A lot of tourists abound these hot springs, but many are not generally aware of the etiquette attached to visiting these springs. Although, the information desks at these onsens do provide detailed instructions on dos and don'ts, it is better to be equipped with the onsen-specific etiquette, as digress from these may cause bad taste when at the facility because these may look tangent to practices from where the tourists hail.
BBC has recently published a set of travel tips and etiquette guidelines which if tourist abide by, would allow a pleasing and memorable stay at these onsens. Here are some:
Rinse off before going inRead details on each above at: BBC Travel
Take it all off
Check beforehand about an onsen’s “tattoo policy”
Do not take pictures
Drink water not booze