I have been to Onsens previously but never as frequently as my current trip to Japan.
While I love the a good hot soak, I am still culturally a shy person when having to bare it all at an Onsen (don’t @ me).
But I have to say it does get easier/better the more frequently you go. Or maybe it’s when you finally realised no one notices you even when you’re naked at an Onsen (similar to how we hesitate to do certain things, thinking that everyone is watching or talking about us). After a while it’s just kind of liberating that everyone is so comfortable in their own skin.
There are several etiquettes to be followed when using the Onsen which I unfortunately learnt only after using it for a few days. Washing yourself thoroughly before entering the hot pool is an obvious one (though I did see this foreigner who went in without washing up :s). The small hot towel you bring in
to cover whatever modesty you have left as a wash cloth is not supposed to be dipped into the onsen pool. You also shouldn’t immerse your whole head into the onsen or swim in it.
I honestly think it’s pretty therapeutic to visit the Onsen. Besides the supposed health benefits like better blood circulation and improved metabolism rate, you also get to see all kinds of people at the Onsen.
Some are the elderly who soak hoping for longevity and better health, while others are the married dad, just sneaking away for a moment of peace from the wife and kids.
For that short 20 minutes, you get in touch with your most naked self while busking in the benefits of Mother Nature. What’s not to like about Onsen really?