Onsen & Sento
Public Baths in Japan
It is important to get the difference between the two types of baths in Japan:
- Onsen (Japanese Hot springs): excellent natural spring water, coming from volcano natural springs, often times located outside (then called rotenburo) and sometimes in a natural environment. They historically started at the end of the 7th century.
- Sento: cities’ districts’ public baths, lots of them were used before the arrival of individual home bathrooms before the mid-half of the 20th century, but they are still trendy today, even in big cities (there are 400 of them just in Tokyo).
These traditional habits are particularly appreciated by Japanese people who happen to be really at ease with nudity in these situations.
Most of the ryokan (traditional inns with hot spring baths) are single-sex and forbidden to tattooed people (even very small ones): the solution of private onsen ends up being essential then in order to enjoy the experience.
In Japan, February 6 is the "day of the bath" (not a holiday).