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Onsen Ryokan

Staying at an onsen ryokan is undoubtedly one of the most popular pastimes in Japan.

There are big baths that are open 24 hours a day in those hotels. You may be surprised at certain things when you go there for the first time.

Here are a couple of things to note (for men):

You are supposed to drape your washcloth in front to cover your you-know-what while walking. It's not a must, but a matter of modesty. Actually, some guys walk around without hiding themselves as if they don't mind showing off their grand or tiny possessions to the eyes of others.

Some oba-chans (middle-aged or older women) may walk into the men's dressing room. You'd better pretend not to be freaked to see a woman there; they don't care, either. They are cleaning women. They simply do their jobs. But what if an oji-chan (the other sex of oba-chan) walked into the women's....


That would be an amazing experience. Not for the shy types though!

Definately not for the shy types. I don't think I'd go to an onsen without wearing a bathing suit. It's been beaten into my head by American society that public bathing is taboo. The hiding "possessions" with towels is too much. This is probably a major issue to deal with for Americans, which might be comical to Japanese.

Major issue? Geez. Actually, not all Americans are so uptight about public nudity. It's only been a couple of generations since skinny-dipping at the local water hole was the epitome of summer fun.

I'm thankful that I lived in an onsen town like Beppu. Although most of the baths were separate, there were plenty of rotenburo (open air baths) that were mixed.

And, Kiyo, I know exactly what happens when a guy wanders into the women's bath--well, here's the story.


I know what you mean, Rae and Jessica. Though I think I'm a shy type, I'm used to public bathing because it's been there as a matter of course here in Japan. ;)

And yes, M, I know you are an onsen lover and I'm glad you are. I read the entry when it was posted. It's a really fun and interesting story. You had a nice experience, and of course, the guys who happened to be there!