Monday, February 27, 2017

Carpe Diem #1164 Onsen the hot springs of Japan

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I am a bit sad, but I am also happy ... this is our last episode of February, so we will leave the land of the Rising Sun, the Mother land of Haiku, Japan and first I thought I will create a kind of departure episode, but than I thought ... "maybe I have to do an episode about Onsen or the hot springs of Japan. I think visiting an Onsen will bring us in peace and into relaxation before we leave the country which we all love dearly.

So today in our last episode I love to tell you a little bit more about the hot springs of Japan or Onsen. Even in Basho's time (17th century) there were already hot springs were the Japanese people could find relaxation and peace of mind. Basho wrote several haiku about the hot springs for example this one:

tonight my skin
will miss the hot spring
it seems colder

Yamanaka Hot Springs

at Yamanaka
it’s not necessary to pluck chrysanthemums
hot spring fragrance

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

An onsen is a Japanese hot spring and the bathing facilities and inns frequently situated around them. As a volcanically active country, Japan has thousands of onsens scattered throughout all of its major islands. Onsens were traditionally used as public bathing places.

Onsens are a central feature of Japanese tourism, typically found in the countryside, but there are also a number of popular establishments found major cities. They are a major tourist attraction drawing Japanese couples, families, or company groups who want to get away from the hectic life of the city to relax. Japanese often talk of the virtues of "naked communion" for breaking down barriers and getting to know people in the relaxed atmosphere of a ryokan with an attached onsen. 

Traditionally, onsens were located outdoors, although a large number of inns have now built indoor bathing facilities as well. Onsens by definition use naturally hot water from geothermally heated springs. Onsens are different from sentō, indoor public bath houses where the baths are filled with heated tap water.

The legal definition of an onsen includes the requirement that its water must contain at least one of 19 designated chemical elements, including such minerals as iron, sulfur, and metabolic acid, and have an average temperature of 25 °C (77 °F) or warmer at the point of release. 

Onsen somewhere in Japan

The volcanic nature of Japan provides plenty of springs. When the onsen water contains distinctive minerals or chemicals, the onsen establishments typically display what type of water it is.

Some examples of types of onsen include:

Sulphur onsen
Sodium chloride onsen 
Hydrogen carbonate onsen 
Iron onsen

In Japan, onsen are said to have various medical effects. Japanese people believe that a good soak in proper onsen heals aches, pains and diseases, and visit onsen as part of the treatment for such ailments as arthralgia, chronic skin diseases, diabetes, constipation, menstrual disorders, and so on.

These medical benefits have given onsens a central role in balneotherapy which is called "Onsen Therapy". Onsen Therapy is a comprehensive bathing treatment conducted to maintain health, normalize dysfunctions, and prevent illness.

Onsen ... a wonderful place to relax and come in contact with your inner self. Relax ... let the hot springs of Japan cherish you and help you to be strong and healthy again to step in to a new month of CDHK in which we will read the wonderful poetry from Persia (nowadays Iran)

hot springs hidden
deep inside the holy mountain
giving new life

hidden in the forest
I ran into a secret hot spring -
Ah! that sweet scent

falling in love
while enjoying the warm water - 
secret hot spring 

© Chèvrefeuille

Well .... this was the last episode of our journey through Japan ... I hope you did like the trip and of course I hope to see you again next month.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until March 4th at noon (CET). I hope to publish our new episode, roses, later on.


  1. Replies
    1. Your welcome my friend. It was a joy to create this month.

  2. I cannot keep up with all the posts, Kristjaan :) But will participate when I can...