Jan 13, 2015

Experience in a Public Bath House or Onsen in Japan

I think I kind of wrote about this in a very short version detailing my experience when I went to Tokyo last time. Since I don't have the photos to show how it actually looks like as we are not allowed to bring in cameras into the bath/onsen (duh!), the pictures shown were ripped off from the world wide web.

You see, I kind of prepare myself with the onsen experience by reading all the guides and articles on how to behave or how to bathe in the public bath area. And not forgetting the experience shared by my friend who used to study in Tokyo on how he got a super culture shock when he need to strip and bathe in nude in front of strangers. I was laughing so hard when he recalled the experience to me and never in my life I thought I would experience the same thing.

But, there is always a but, I never knew that the capsule hotel that we booked in Haneda airport will be the first time I bathed in nude in front of strangers. When we reached the capsule hotel, it's called First Cabin, we checked in and brought to our beds. And then we were handed with a flyer on how to behave and use the public bath. I think my friends' face went a little pale seeing that it's a public bath and they insisted not to bathe after sitting through 7 hour of flight! I was shocked as well but I need to clean myself before sleeping and the only way to do it was through the public bath.

The stools that you are suppose to sit on and clean yourself before dipping into the pool next to it
photo credit to itravelstories.blogspot
So I gathered my stuff, the hotel provide a big and hand towel and pajamas for those who stayed there and I went to the outer area of the public bath. Already saw naked woman running around, ok more like they were stripping like it's the most normal thing in the world. I kind of stunned not knowing what to do and stand there like an idiot for like 5 minutes. Then I saw some private showers and thought of waiting for it but it was full. Then I just thought, 'Screw it la, since I am in Japan, must try the public bath'. And off I went and joined those obasan for a very naked and public bath, haha.

Turned out it was not that bad. Shampoo, shower gel, conditioner and facial scrub were all provided and dare say they were all expensive stuff (Shiseido brand, until now I still remember how silky smooth my hair after using them). I sat on the stool and start looking, even brought in my specs, haha, trying to figure out how to behave or more like bathe, haha. After looking and spying, I got the hang of it. You are supposed to bathe and clean yourself before dipping into the pool. And truthfully having nearsightedness really helps as I can't really see those naked obasan except for the outline of their body, haha.

Some do's and dont's in the public bath/onsen
photo credit to rocketnews24
So the next time when I was in a ryokan, I was so prepared to bathe naked in front of obasans but too bad the ryokan onsen is more like a private one where we can locked the door and have the whole bath area and onsen to our self. And that sums up the most daring thing I ever done while travelling, there are a few others but that's for another day.

Here's the onsen at the ryokan that we booked
photo credit to Agoda