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Onsen

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Outdoor pool, Naruko
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Outdoor pool, Naruko
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Onsen_in_Nachikatsuura,_Japan.jpg
Outdoor Onsen on Nakanoshima island in Nachikatsuura, Wakayama Prefecture
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OnsenEntranceInHakkone.jpg
Old onsen in Hakone
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Guidebook_to_Hakone_1811a.jpg
Guidebook to Hakone from 1811

An onsen (温泉; often indicated on signs and maps by 湯 or ゆ, for hot water) is a Japanese hot spring. The onsen is basically a Japanese public bath (sento) with natural hot spring water, and its history and etiquette are very related to the sento. The onsen plays an important role in Japanese culture, providing (socially) institutionalised relief from the pressures of the contemporary Japanese twelve-hour work ethic and a chance for Japanese to break down the hierarchal nature of society through the mutual nakedness of skinship.

Ideally, they should be outdoors, use naturally hot water directly extracted from a natural volcanic spring, and they are often embellished with (or, in the cheaper varieties, replaced by) a wide variety of extravagant spa baths, artificial waterfalls and saunas. The essential difference between an onsen and a sento (communal bath house) is that the water in an onsen must be volcanic spring in origin, even if reheated, whereas a sento may use ordinary heated water. Onsen water is often thought to have healing powers according to its mineral properties and onsens often have several different baths, each augmented by the addition of different minerals or the composition of the tub.

A key feature of the onsen is that as well as mere bathing facilities, there should be accommodation, extravagant cooking and all manner of relaxing pastimes—massages, aromatherapy, relaxation rooms and comfortable surrounds. Essentially, the onsen should be the diametric opposite of everything in normal, hectic day-to-day Japanese life.

Incomplete list of onsen


See also

Template:Commons Turkish bath, sauna, sento, balneotherapy


External Links

de:Onsen ja:温泉

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