If you are an onsen virgin (as one of our guests called it) you may be feeling a little reluctant to bathe with the locals. Many foreigners feel strange about being nude with others, but let me assure you, everyone is naked under their clothes, and everyone leaves their clothes behind when they take an onsen. If you too undress, you will fit in perfectly, no need to feel uneasy or out-of-place. And anyway, you will most likely never have to see these people again so who cares if they get a peak at your barest essentials. Even if you don’t care about the nudity, you may be worried about embarrassing yourself by committing the worst of faux pas while having nothing on to cover up the shame. The first time I went to an onsen I had a good friend take me through the process step-by-step. I have to admit it was not the most relaxing experience the first time around, but now, 100s of onsens later, I have to tell you this is an experience not to be missed! So let me take you through the process step by step and hopefully you too will feel confident enough to have a go at one of Japan’s oldest and most popular traditions. Click on “read more” for a detailed 9-step onsen procedure.
Like many onsens in Japan, this onsen is part of a hotel.
To visit Genryu-no-Yu in Hakuba, you should use the Hotel Hakuba Goryu main entrance.
This is where you take off your shoes (in Japan only ghosts where their shoes inside).
Place your shoes in the shoebox.
(picture coming soon)
Buy a ticket from the person at the counter. Adults are ¥500 / Children ¥400 / Towel ¥150 and go
choose the correct changing area. Blue curtain is for the boys and red for girls.
Get undressed and put your clothes in one of the lockers.
You will need a ¥100 coin for the key deposit which is returned when you open the locker.
Have a seat on one of the stools. Wash, scrub, and rinse. Shampoo and liquid body soap is provided. If you want to look like a pro then bring your own favorite body washes and use a small hand towel to wash yourself with. You can also use this small towel to hide your most delicate of parts. Men often carry their towel in front of their member, while most women don’t worry about who sees what.
Expel a huge “ahhhhh” as you enter the bath. To prevent shock or fainting you can test the water with your hand first and splash a little onto your legs before you slowly lower yourself into the natural hot-spring waters. If you are still carrying the hand-towel you used for washing, make sure it never goes in the bath. If it has been rinsed you can wring out the excess water (outside of the bath), fold it up, and put it on your head. This is said to prevent fainting.
You do not have to sit neck-deep in water the entire time. If you get too hot, have a seat on the step, or sit on the side of the bath. Another great way to cool down is to go outside, get some fresh air, and try the rotenburo (outdoor bath).
When you turn pink, go wrinkly, or feel bathed out you can make your way back to the changing area. Be sure not to drip all over the change room. You can use your small hand towel to wipe off any excess water before entering the change room. Get dressed, dry your hair (hairdryers provided), clean your ears (Q-tips are by the sink) and make your way back out of the change room. There is a large tatami room where you can stretch, relax, have a drink, or even something to eat.