Wanderlust

Japan: Naked hot springs

October 7, 2015
Note: I wrote this article in 2009 for my friend’s Japanese-culture blog. Gave me a laugh so thought I’d repost. Excuse my past-self’s language choices, although the honesty is quite entertaining!

I remember the steam rising to kiss my rose-coloured cheeks as snowflakes danced through the air and gently settled in to my hair. It was all so serene, so calming…so awkward!

If you travel to Japan, you won’t want to miss a traditional, naked hot springs experience. I felt very lucky for the chance to bathe in the Kotohira hot springs with a dazzling view of Fuji Mountain in the distance. The heat of the water instantly relaxes your muscles and your worries just seem to drift far far away…but only after you get over yourself!

Being butt naked with a bunch of strangers isn’t the most relaxing – at first.

Let it go, take a deep breathe. You’ll experience the most tranquil, soothing bath of your life.

Feeling timid or not sure what’s the protocol? Here’s a few quick tips:

1) Act like it’s not a big deal

It’s okay to be uncomfortable, but just act like you’re not. By trying to cover up and being all weird about your body, you’ll only draw more attention to yourself.

Also, by hiding yourself, you kind of imply that you find it shameful to bare all, which in turn may make your fellow bath mates feel uncomfortable or insecure about being naked around you. You may actually inadvertently ruin their experience.

My cousin and I made this unintentional mistake when we went to the bath house for the first time together. We were very self-conscious and freaking out about who got in first, yelling at each other “don’t look at my tits”,“okay I’m ready”,“not yet”,“DON’T LOOK”!

I noticed out of the corner of my eye during my anxiety ridden disrobing that the other ladies seemed to try to cover up more seeing that I was so anal about being naked. My bad.

It also didn’t help that the water was so hot and it took me so damn long to get my insecure butt fully in!

Side note, rest assured, the baths are separated between men and women, so don’t worry, it’s not like the grotto at the playboy mansion.

2) Don’t worry about your body/body hair

No one cares if you’re fat, or if you didn’t shave. Just be clean. Remember to rinse off before you get in (or fully shower if you’re dirty).

I would actually advise to not shave down there. Turns out the Brazilian hasn’t really caught on in Japan. On top of already feeling insecure about being naked, I felt like a skanky-ho with my business seemingly all ready… for business!

3) Relax and feel the feminine energy encircle you

There’s something about being naked with a bunch of other women that’s very comforting and rejuvenating. Women from around the world share a common experience dealing with stress from family, friends, lovers and society.

Just sitting there naked all together in mutual vulnerability, with nothing to hide, collectively steaming away our stressors, felt very therapeutic. I imagine guys would feel the same in the men’s bath house…after they’ve sized up each other’s wangs!

4) Don’t rinse off after: 

You want the rich minerals from the hot springs to absorb and revitalize your skin.

You don’t want all that time sitting there painfully restraining your darting eyes to go to waste do you?!

Hope you enjoyed that post! I’ve included a few random pics from my trip in the gallery. Loved the Japanese-girl style, which is notably still on trend 6 years later! I’m a bit of a Japanese-culture enthusiast so I’d love for you to share any of your interesting travel stories in the comments.

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