Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Japanese Onsen Unzen pt. 1

This past weekend we went to a place called Unzen which is high on a mountain East of Nagasaki city. This was my first hot springs 'onsen' experience and it gave me an interesting look at Japanese culture.

The hotel was a Japanese style, similar to my home stay apartment but a lot nicer. It was one main room, a toilet room, washroom and bathing room (all separate) and a lovely area with a table and chairs where you can look out the window at a Japanese style garden.

I shared the room with two other American women which I haven't done since high school. But both ladies were mellow and ended up being good roommates. In the room was a cotton Yukata (summer kimono) and a beautiful purple jacket for colder weather. It was like playing dress up to wear these down to the hot springs and while we were socializing.

The hot-spring baths were a bit of a shock as they are communal and you must be completely naked. It was really difficult for most of us to get past our Western inhibitions, but since everyone felt the same way we all focused on ourselves and didn't pay attention to each other. First you have to wash yourself off because the baths are only fore bathing, not for washing. Then you soak in the bath, there were two in the woman's section (which switched to men in the morning) a large hot indoor pool and a cooler outer pool surrounded by a garden and small waterfall. The water smelled like sulfur but felt wonderful and was so murky that we couldn't see anyone below the surface.

In the evening we had a very traditional meal on low tables with floor cushions and were served by women in lovely kimonos. After that was games and Karaoke which were a blast.


  1. Sounds cool, did Brian go to one as well?

  2. Yes, Brian came also. But he was in another room because men and women were separate (not surprisingly)