When Japanese travel abroad, we are surprised about what is written on guide book, that is “we should bring toothbrush and sleepwear, as most hotels do not provide them.” This is very surprising for Japanese, as “Oh? Really?” This is because Japanese accommodations almost always provide toothbrush and sleepwear (yukata).
Basic Amenities Provided at Onsen Ryokan
Well, let me introduce basic amenities provide in rooms of Japanese onsen ryokan.
・Electric kettle + tea set – You can enjoy tea (green tea) for free.
・Refrigerator – It is empty or filled with drinks (surcharge required).
・Towels – Most combination is face towel and bath towel.
・Toothbrush – It comes with toothpaste for one night.
・Yukata – Other than yukata, there could also be monk’s working clothes or pajamas.
・Body soap, hair shampoo – Sometimes equipped in a bath rather than in a room.
・Safe (strong box)
These are the basic amenities provided at general ryokan.
At Kashiwaya Ryokan, we also offer the following amenities.
Amenities provided at Kashiwaya Ryokan
・Wi-Fi – Although this is not a thing, it is so useful. ※It is for free.
・Drawstring pouch – A convenient fabric pouch, useful when you go to the bath.
・Hairbrush and comb
・Cotton and cotton swab
・Hair rubber band and shower cap
・Tabi – A kind of socks. We provide it only during cold season.
・Skin care products – Provided at women bathrooms.
・Bathrobe – Provided at rooms with private bath.
・Soap, shampoo, and conditioner set of THANN, the Asian luxury cosmetics brand – Provided at rooms with private bath.
Bus amenities are one of the pleasures of accommodation, as you can select various things at each ryokan and some ryokan provide their original amenities. In fact, I imagine that many customers enjoy amenities at home that are possible to be taken-away. (Please ask at each ryokan whether amenities can be taken away.)
Use amenities and built-in fixtures at ryokan effectively to enjoy your comfortable trip!
To say couples, there are various couples, such as lovers who began the relationship recently, just married couples, and couples snuggled for years. Our Shima onsen Kashiwaya ryokan is recommended to couples and actually used by them the highest, and of course they are very pleased.
Reasons: 1. Private Onsen
The greatest factor is, again, the 3 private onsen (open-air bath).
It is fun to chat, looking at seasonally changing mountains, such as cherry blossoms, fresh green, autumn leaves, and snows during day and the sky with full of stars during night and taking bath quietly can be also happy.
As we have a system that customers can take private onsen as many times as they want if it is vacant (do not forget to lock the door from inside at the time of use), so customers can enjoy it freely. I think this may be one of factors why couples love our ryokan.
3 onsen have individually different taste.
Kaede-no-yu (Maple) is a Japanese garden-style stone bath with maple and Sanbaseki, famous stone at Gunma).
Sakura-no-yu (Cherry blossom) is a bath using cypress for its frame also made at Gunma Prefecture.
Finally, Tsuki-no-yu (Moon) is a round bath tub type made of wood, using Takanomaki woods made at Kiso.
Reason 2. Meals
And, another thing couples enjoy is dinner provided at each guest room (Oheyasyoku dinner). So to speak, it is like a system to say even “in-room dining of full course”, sitting on a cushion on tatami Japanese-style room, you can enjoy a meal arranged in Gozen (a small table for a meal) called Daimyo (feudal load) Zen with only two people in private.
Reason 3. The pace, Shima Onsen
In the sense on onsen for couples, our Shima onsen area itself is a perfect resort suitable for couples who want to spend a quiet time flowing leisurely.
When couples who spent such crowded places stay at Shima onsen, they can really relax and get refresh.
Thus, we recommend staying at a quiet resort where you can spend time by you two people alone, like our Shima onsen Kashiwaya ryokan when traveling long in Japan.
We guarantee you two people become more and more intimate!
Go Naked! No swim suit.
It is Japanese traditional culture of Japan, everyone goes into a bath together
Don’t be shameful!
Let’s enjoy together Onsen Bath!
If you will hesitate, don’t worry because we have three private open air baths.
Be clean! Wash your XXX first.
Before entering the bathtub, it is customary to lightly wash your lower body outside the tub.
After that, you get in the bathtub and soak for a while.
Then you get out of the bathtub and scrub all over your body with soap.
When you have finished washing yourself, you get in the bathtub again and enjoy a good soak.
No running. No swimming.
You’d better walk slowly inside the bathroom because the floor may be very slippery because of ingredient of Onsen.
In addition, you never swim even if the bathtub is too big.
The major purpose of taking Onsen is not only to wash one’s body but also to rest and relax by soaking Onsen.
No drunk person inside the bathtub.
Usually, the temperature of Onsen is at least 40degrees (40℃).
So it is not good for your health for heavy drunk person to take or soak the bathtub.
To enjoy Onsen safely, please do not take the bath after drinking too much.
No glass inside the area.
As we all know, the people who take Onsen are all naked.
You never bring the dangerous or fragile things, like glass, inside the bathroom and locker room nether.
No washing inside the bathtub.
There is a space provided for washing as well as a bathtub and shower.
Please wash your body and hair at the washing space.
And as we all know, you never wash your cloths inside the bathtub.
Watch others when washing or showering.
Many people would use and take Onsen at the same time.
You are not the only person to use it.
It is very important manner to take care other person around you.
Let’s share rest and relax time all together!
Do not put towel inside the bathtub.
There are two major rules to take Onsen.
First, you should now allow your wash-towel or any soap into the bathtub.
Secondly, when you leave the bath, you do not drain the water.
These manners come from the fact that you are not the only person to use the bath water in the tub.
Wipe your body before entering locker room.
To keep the locker room dry and clean, you would wipe yourself lightly with your wash-towel before entering there.
After wiping your body completely with your bath-towel in the locker room, you could wear “YUKATA”, bathing clothing, a kind of KIMONO.
The beauty effect of onsen has also scientifically verified. When blood circulation of body is improved by the thermal effect of onsen, discharge of waste is promoted and metabolism is activated. As onsen ingredients remove old cornified layer of skin surface, it is very useful to rejuvenation of skin.
Moisturizing effect of water vapor is also excellent. It gives firmness and moisture to dry skins that tend to crack, so that you can get ideal skins. Above all, because all the components included in onsen are natural, thus the safety that there is no risk of side effects is attractive.
However, in order to fully enjoy the beauty effect of onsen, you need to practice the “right bathing method.”
1.Number of Bathing Time
Beauty effect level of onsen is not proportional to the number of bathing times. As soaking a high temperature onsen for a long time gives large burden on your body, take onsen only several times a day.
2. Preparation before Bathing
Before going to an onsen place, have a light meal. As taking onsen consumes a large amount of energy, you may become ill if you take onsen when hungry. You should also have enough hydration.
3. Things to Do at Washing Space
Before entering the bathtub, wash off the dirt of the body. Wash through sweat and grime of the body as well as makeup. When you enter the bathtub while the body is still dirty, the precious onsen beauty ingredients do not penetrate into the pores.
4. How to Bath
If you enter a bathtub with high temperature water right away, it will put a huge burden on the heart. First, scoop the hot water with Oke (scoop), do “Kakeyu (throw water)” several times on the feet. After the lower body is warmed up, do Kakeyu on the arms, shoulders, and back, and also warm the upper body. When the whole body is accustomed enough to the temperature of onsen, slowly enter the bathtub.
Concerning the time soaking in the bathtub, it should be about 10-30 minutes at the longest. If you want to reduce the burden on the body, you may enter the bathtub in the following step; bathing → wash the hair → bathing → wash the face → bathing → wash the body → bathing… The “split bathing” lets you avoid the risk of continuously soaking in the bathtub for a long period.
5. Notes when Exiting Onsen
If you wash away the body before returning to the dressing room, the beauty ingredients on the skin surface run down. Those who still want to rinse your body before you exit, take shower lightly. Also, take a rest moderately and hydrate after bathing.
Although the topic is concentrated for women if I say “beauty,” even men can spend comfortably every day if they are in good physical condition and have fine skins. As I wrote in the article of Effectiveness and Efficacy of Onsen, it is said that onsen has 5 effectiveness and efficacy.
They are as following:
“Pharmacological effect” by efficacy components,
“Thermal effect” by the heat of onsen,
“Buoyancy effect” and “pressure effect” during bathing, and
“Changing environment effect” by changing environment.
Among them, I (Kaoruko Kashiwabara, a Director of Kashiwaya ryokan) personally think the following 3 functions especially work for beauty; “Pharmacological effect,” “Thermal effect,” and “Changing environment effect.”
First, let’s talk about “thermal effect.”
It has been found that Japanese way of taking bath consumes significant energy. For example, when you take 42 ℃ onsen for 20 minutes, it is said to consume 220Kcal. It burns your calories as much as light jogging. That means, there is a diet effect!
Next, “pharmacological effect.”
Quality of Shima Onsen is “sodium-calcium chloride, sulfate onsen”, which main components are sodium chloride, calcium chloride, and sulfate ions. As it contains abundant sodium ions, you can taste little salty with a little lick.
When taking onsen, a large amount of sodium chloride components cover the body like a veil, and bring perspiration like sauna. Sulfate onsen has power to discharge waste and metasilicate gives moisturizing effect, thus you can enjoy the efficacy to become moisture beautiful skin that is eternal yearning of women.
Changing Environment Effect
The last one is “changing environment effect.”
Perhaps, relaxing is the best for beauty. The best part of trip may be relaxing in an unusual location and environment away from distractions of work and everyday matters. Starting with Shima Onsen, many Japanese onsen are located at scenic place full of the nature, thus changing environment effect is especially outstanding.
Onsen Beauty Goods
As Shima onsen is said to be good for beauty, beauty products, such as lotion using onsen, are also sold. For example, there are “Shima Onsen Moisture Mist,” lotion with 100% onsen component, “Shima Onsen Soap” with onsen kneaded, and “Wet Tissue” made of onsen water. Not a few customers also repeatedly purchase them.
Shima Onsen that Works on 40,000 Diseases
Shima onsen is efficacy rich onsen that is said to work on 40,000 diseases from ancient time. It is wondering that, with even through one night, your head is cleaned, skins become shiny, your physical condition becomes better, and your feeling becomes gentle by fully enjoying the onsen.
Although it is almost no longer in fashion, a style of Toji that heals fatigue of mind and body by staying onsen for more than half a month had been followed unbroken from the old Edo era in Japan. Even one night works for beauty. Can you imagine how much good it is for beauty if you experience Toji! Although it is a way too luxury for busy modern people, try Toji of staying at one onsen for a long time if you could take a long-term vacation. You might become able to understand onsen culture that is said to be ingrained in Japanese DNA and more, your Japanese skill will surely improve! lol
Finally, you have to keep this in your mind.
Although it is said onsen is good for beauty, “the last drop makes the cup run over” as in the proverb. If you take hot water too long, so-called hot flashes, anemia, and dehydration may occur. Get used to hot water gradually and do not forget hydration!
It is said that there are more than 3,000 onsen with accommodation in Japan.
On the contrary, looking at the number of onsen in the world, Australia is about 50 and Germany is a little less than 200, thus you can see that Japan has overwhelming onsen powers. (Source: National Diet Library database)
In addition, its history and traditions are also great.
Onsen that was Described in the Japanese Oldest Book
A relationship between Japanese and onsen is so deep that there are descriptions about onsen on “Kojiki” that is said to have been compiled in A.D. 712 and is the Japanese oldest book. We often say, “Onsen culture is due to Japanese DNA.” It is exactly like that.
Where is the oldest onsen in Japan? Onsen enthusiasts often discuss it.
From a view that are appeared in the ancient texts such as Nihonsyoki (Chronicles) and Fudoki (Topography), commonly referred “Japanese three oldest onsen” are Dogo onsen (Ehime Prefecture), Arima onsen (Hyogo Prefecture), and Shirahama onsen (Wakayama Prefecture).
In the era when medical care was undeveloped, onsen was revered as Holy Land that has amazing efficacy for injury and illness. It was after the Kamakura era that bathing became a common culture same as modern. Then in the Edo era, “Toji (onsen therapy)” culture, that is people heal their fatigue in onsen during agricultural off-season, spread and has continued unbroken until now.
Tradition of Shima Onsen
Tradition of Shima onsen is also very old and nobody knows exactly, however, there are episodes, such as Shogun of the time, Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, discovered it at Ezo conquest during Enryaku period (from A.D. 782 to 806) according to a legend, and Usui Hyuganokami Sadamitsu, a vassal of Minamoto no Raikou, discovered it when traveling From Echigo country to Ueno country in Eien 3 (A.D. 989).
The legend is like this. Usui Hyuganokami Sadamitsu was spending time by chanting while he was camping in the middle of the journey. Then suddenly, an unfamiliar child appeared and left mysterious surrender, “I bestow you a holy onsen that cures 40,000 diseases as I was moved by your sincerity of chanting. I am a divine spirit of this mountain.” Although Sadamitsu was almost falling asleep, he examined the peripheral in a hurry, and found onsen gushing out there. According to these legends, it is likely that onsen had been known before the 10th century.
It was during the Warring States Period of the 16th century when Shima onsen ryokan was full-fledged open. The length of history is also a proof of the height of efficacy. It is said that when taking Shima onsen, it demonstrates wonderful effects on improving skin diseases, such as atopic dermatitis or burns, and poor physical condition of gastrointestinal system disease. Thus, Shima onsen is highly acclaimed as a premier Toji place. In addition, skin effect is also outstanding, thus many female customers also visit for cosmetic purposes.
Shima onsen is a spa town, and there are more than 30 accommodations along Shima river. One of them is “Sekizenkan main building,” which is said to be the existing Japanese oldest Yuyado architecture.
So, you can feel good old Japanese tradition. Sekizenkan is said to have become the model of the stage of “Spirited Away,” a Studio Ghibli’s masterpiece. If you look at the red bridge towards straight extending to the front door, many people raise impressed voice by superimposing with the world of the anime.
In October, a Shima autumn festival is held, where local young people play grand festival music works together. The traditional festival lives up the onsen town, so you can enjoy a little bit different Shima onsen’s taste from usual one.
“Yakushido,” a national designated important cultural property, that has been dedicated to Yunomae Myojin at Hinatami district is a symbol of Shima onsen tradition.
It is said to be architecture of late Muromachi Era. The fact that there was such a splendid building from that time is also a testimony that Shima onsen has prospered from old time.
There is a system called “national resort onsen,” best onsen as resort designated by the Ministry of the Environment, in Japan. Shima onsen was designated as the first national resort onsen in 1954. This would show that Shima onsen is traditional and also has excellent medicinal efficacy.
As Toji culture had been remained until the 1975’s at Shima onsen, you can walk the streets where you can feel the Toji culture even now, such as shopping mall and drinking onsen spot.
In addition, concerning the humanity of people living at Shima onsen, most of them do not care business profit that is same as in Toji era, thus people sometimes say that it is like the time of this town has stopped.
Fully enjoy onsen atmosphere at traditional Japanese onsen, especially among them, at Shima onsen with old history.
Shima Onsen is a well-known Onsen located at Nakanojo town in Gunma Prefecture.
In Japan, Ministry of Environment certifies onsen, which efficacy and integrity are recognized to be superior, as “national health resort onsen” and utilizes it as dissemination activities so that more people can familiarize onsen. Shima Onsen is the commemorable first onsen among more than 90 national resort onsens, thus can be called as the onsen with reliability proven by history and records.
Moreover, most sources of Shima Onsen are natural seep, thus you can expose the whole body to fresh water with less oxidation. Temperature of onsen is 50-80 degrees Celsius. You can thoroughly warm up the core of your body and indulge in a moment of bliss. Majestic scenery surrounding open-air bath also becomes a feast for the eyes, thus it has huge popularity as a retreat.
Shima Onsen is written as 「四万温泉」 in Chinese characters. It means the number 40000. It is said to be named as “forty thousand Onsen,” meaning that the effect of full onsen heals 40000 diseases.
There is originally a culture of “Toji” in Japan, meaning cure in onsen. Many people used to heal fatigue of body and mind by staying at onsen for one week to one month up to the 1970s.
why does onsen have a potency to heal sickness and fatigue of body and mind?
Supposedly ,It is due to the combined effect of 5 elements. Those elements are;
“Pharmacological effect” by efficacy components,
“Thermal effect” by the heat of onsen,
“Buoyancy effect” and “pressure effect” during bathing, and
“Changing environment effect” by changing environment.
Then, I introduce the detail of these five benefits.
1: “pharmacological effect”.
Quality of Shima Onsen is “sodium-calcium chloride, sulfate onsen”, of which main components are sodium chloride, calcium chloride, and sulfate ions. As it contains abundant sodium ions, you can taste little salt with a little lick.
When taking onsen, a large amount of sodium chloride components cover the body like a veil, and bring perspiration like sauna. As moisturizing effect can be available as well as waste discharge, you can enjoy the efficacy to become beautiful moist skin that is an eternal yearning of women. Besides anti-aging effects, improved efficacy of skin disease-relation is also known, such as abrasions, burns, atopic dermatitis, heat rash, and eczema.
In addition, minerals such as calcium and magnesium are also abundant. If bathing thoroughly, nourishing ingredients penetrate into the body, and work for relief of symptoms of neuralgia and arthritis. Relaxing effect of negative ions loosens entrenched body, and also contributes to fatigue, such as muscle pain and joint pain.
2: “thermal effect.”
By warming the body in onsen, blood circulation is improved and metabolism increases, and you will see the effect preeminent in terms of both beauty and health. Customers from abroad often ask, “Why do Japanese people enjoy taking this kind of hot water in such hot summer season?” I think this is because Japanese know by instinct the utility of thermal effect. Please try to observe the situation when Japanese get into a bathtub. Most people get into bath with really pleasant voice, such as “Fu ~” and “Ha ~.”
3:”buoyancy effect” and “pressure effects.”
Buoyancy acts when entering water, such as a pool not limited to onsen, you feel like the body became lighter. This buoyancy releases from gravity, muscles loosen, and that leads to relaxation of body and mind.
It is said that “legs are the second heart” as about one-third of the total blood volume gathers to legs, and this blood is sent back to the heart. When bathing, blood vessels become narrow in water pressure, blood is pushed toward the heart, and as a result, the flow of veins in the lower extremities is improved, thus circulation of blood and lymph also become active.
4: “Changing environment effect.”
I feel that positive impact given by changing environment effect to body and mind is very strong. You may have experienced that you got refreshed by leaving a home land and placing oneself in a different environment. Starting with Shima Onsen, many Japanese onsen are located at scenic places full of the nature, this changing environment effect is especially outstanding. Traveling from overseas to Japan itself is already changing environment effect!
By the way, Shima Onsen is renowned as “drinkable onsen,” and there is also a way to enjoy drinking onsen water as well as bathing. If you go to drinking onsen spots that are installed in some places at the onsen town, you can drink onsen water with rich nutrition. As components can be directly absorbed through digestive organs, there is a profound effect on improving disease of constipation, loss of appetite, and gastrointestinal system diseases. It is said that there is also the effect on other illness, such as diabetes and gout.
Origin of the onsen name, “onsen that heals forty thousand diseases” is not a fake. Many people from all over the country visit on a regular basis for onsen treatment purposes. While eating good food, please come and experience the culture of onsen recuperation imprinted in the DNA of Japanese.
Take Shima Onsen with rich effects, heal fatigue from the journey, and enjoy your trip to Japan trip to your heart’s contents.