jueves, 3 de septiembre de 2009

Traditional Addiction


Visiting a Ryokan in Japan can be the little something that changes your whole experience in that lovely country.

On my last video on YouTube (please go subscribe to my channel, there’s a lot more of Japan to see in the next weeks), we stayed at a Ryokan while visiting the island of Miyajima and it sure was an experience of a lifetime.

Not only do you get delicious traditional food but it is also of the highest quality and the best ingredients are used to cook each meal. Sure, gastronomy is of great importance but there is a lot more to experience while trying traditional Japanese accommodation.

One example that I could not cover on the video is the ONSEN. This is a word you will hear very often as it represents an important ritual of traditional life in Japan.

The onsen are hot springs of thermal water of volcanic origin which were traditionally used as public baths. Today, the onsen attract both domestic and foreign tourists every day.

There are many kinds of onsen depending from the kind of water, temperatures and even depending on being outdoors or indoors.

It is believed that onsen water has healing powers thanks to its mineral content so it is very well taken care of. This means that clothes and swimsuits are NOT allowed in the thermal water (yes, you have to be naked) and you have to follow the Japanese etiquette which consists of thoroughly cleaning and rinsing yourself before entering the hot water. In most onsen, they provide you with the amenities (shampoo, soap and even face cleansers) needed to follow the etiquette.

In the past, men and women used to bathe together but since everyday Japan receives more and more foreigners, single-sex onsen are now more popular. You can still find mixed-sex onsen in some parts of Japan.

As a foreigner, it feels awkward at first but yes, it is addictive... Once you try the onsen experience, you won’t want to leave the country. Don’t be afraid and try it, you won’t regret it!!