source of a hot spring water in Aomori

A journey to a Japanese hot spring

A Journey to a Japanese Hot Spring: The ultimate winter onsen experience

Winter is coming, and with it comes freezing air and cold winds. There's nothing quite like waking up on a frosty morning, feeling the chill, and longing to stay under your warm duvet. This is the true essence of winter. But what better way to embrace the season than planning a journey to the Japanese countryside, where a cozy, warm, and stylish Ryokan—a traditional Japanese inn—awaits?

a picture showing a natural Japanese hot spring in the mountain

In this article, we'll explore why the winter season is the best time for an onsen, the unique experiences you can enjoy, and why Tohoku, with its renowned hot springs, is a must-visit destination.

Winter Season

The Best Time for an Onsen Winter in Japan brings a magical transformation, especially in the northern regions. The freezing air and cold winds create the perfect conditions for enjoying a hot spring. The contrast of the icy outdoors with the steaming, mineral-rich waters of an onsen is an experience like no other.

Why Tohoku?

Tohoku, located in the northern part of Japan, is my favorite area for enjoying hot springs. This region is celebrated for the quality of its onsen waters and delicious local food. Deep in the forests between Gunma, Tochigi, and Fukushima, you'll find outdoor hot springs with creamy, mineral-rich water waiting for weary mountain walkers.

Experiencing a ryokan

A Ryokan offers a unique blend of traditional Japanese hospitality and modern comfort. Staying in a Ryokan means more than just a place to sleep; it's an immersive experience. You'll enjoy traditional tatami rooms, futon bedding, and exquisite kaiseki meals, all while being surrounded by stunning natural beauty.

feet next a Japanese hot spring

Relaxation and rejuvenation

During winter, there's nothing more soothing than pouring hot, creamy water from a wooden Hinoki bucket while sitting on a wooden stool. The rejuvenating scent of Hinoki wood combined with the mineral elements of the spa water, along with the comforting embrace of an Imabari towel, works wonders to soothe and heal physical pain.

Spring Transition

As spring approaches, the air becomes fresher, and the colors of nature start to change. The onsen experience remains delightful, with the invigorating air adding to the charm.

Nighttime Serenity

When night falls and dinner has been savored, it's time for one last bath outside. Enjoy the tranquil atmosphere and contemplate the reflections of the moon on the creamy water—an experience that brings peace and relaxation before a restful night's sleep.

hot japanese bath

Frequently Asked Questions about Onsen in Japan

What is an onsen in Japan? Let me tell you about one of my favorite Japanese experiences: the onsen. An onsen is a natural hot spring bath, and Japan has thousands of them! They’re cherished not just for their relaxing warmth but also for their amazing therapeutic properties. Onsen are deeply embedded in Japanese culture, and taking a dip in one is like embracing a piece of Japan’s soul.

Do you wear clothes in Japanese onsen? Here’s something that might surprise you: no, you don’t wear clothes in a traditional Japanese onsen. Forget your bathing suit because it’s all about bathing naked. It might feel a bit strange at first, but it’s part of the authentic experience. Just remember, cleanliness is key! Make sure to thoroughly wash and rinse your body before stepping into the soothing waters.

Can foreigners go to onsen in Japan? Absolutely! As a foreigner, I’ve always felt welcome at onsen across Japan. Most places are happy to have international visitors, but it’s super important to follow the local etiquette. This means washing up before you enter the bath, keeping your towel out of the water, and being respectful of other bathers. It’s all about ensuring everyone has a pleasant and relaxing time.

Are onsen mixed gender? This is an interesting one. While you might find some mixed-gender onsen, especially in rural areas or private facilities, most public onsen have separate baths for men and women. If you’re curious about trying a mixed-gender bath, a little research ahead of time can help you find the perfect spot. But rest assured, whether separate or mixed, the onsen experience is something you won’t forget.


Japanese Bathroom Accessories for Onsen Experience

Enhance your at-home onsen experience with these exquisite Japanese bathroom accessories. These items will elevate your bath time, bringing a touch of Japanese tradition and luxury to your home.

1. Japanese bath stool: Premium hinoki bath accessories

Discover our meticulously crafted wooden shower stool, a pinnacle of Japanese bath accessories. Experience the natural benefits of Hinoki cypress wood: antibacterial properties, calming scent, and sustainability. Elevate your bathroom experience with this exquisite Japanese bath chair. View Product

A handcrafted Japanese cypress (Hinoki) bath chair, 11.8 inches tall, sits on a mosaic-tiled floor. Its eco-friendly, minimalist design is evident in the visible grain and natural finish, accompanied by subtle greenery in a serene bathroom setting.

2. Handmade hiba cypress onsen bath bucket - Eco-Friendly

Explore our Handmade Hiba Cypress Onsen Bath Bucket, perfect for a luxurious Japanese-style bathroom. Made from eco-friendly, sustainably-sourced Hiba wood, it offers antibacterial and deodorizing properties. Elevate your bath experience with this durable, aromatic, and eco-conscious accessory. View Product

A φ22cm / 8.66" handy bath bucket made of Sawara Japanese cypress sits on a white tiled surface with green ferns around, showcasing the bucket's smooth grain and copper bands.


3. Hinoki aroma shower soap: Luxurious & relaxing bath

Experience the calming essence of Japanese Hinoki with our handcrafted soap bar. Infused with pure Hinoki essential oil, it promotes relaxation, nourishes your skin, and leaves you feeling revitalized. View Product


A wooden soap dish made of hinoki cypress, containing a pale, solid block of soap, placed on a tiled surface with a green pine branch arranged around it for an added natural touch.


4. Wooden foot soaking basin 

Experience spa-like relaxation with our foot soaking tub crafted from natural Sawara wood. Dive into the authenticity of a Japanese bath tub and the convenience of a foot bath sink. Prioritize eco-friendly body care and sustainability with every soak. View Product

side view of a woman soaking her feet in a wood soaking bath placed on a grey carpet in a room


5. Hinoki wood bath bucket: Essence of Japanese bathroom accessories

Experience unparalleled Japanese craftsmanship with our Hinoki bath bucket. A pinnacle in wooden bathroom accessories, it promises durability, hygiene, and sustainability. Dive into a luxurious bathing ritual that celebrates tradition, nature, and modern luxury. Explore the world of hinoki bathroom accessories with us. View Product

A Japanese wooden bath bucket with handle on a pine branch inside a white bathroom floor

 A journey to a Japanese hot spring, especially during the winter season, offers a unique blend of relaxation, cultural immersion, and natural beauty. Whether you visit the renowned hot springs of Tohoku or bring the experience home with premium Japanese bathroom accessories, the onsen experience is sure to rejuvenate your body and soul.

Related Articles:

Impression on Japanese Wooden Bath

Best Japanese Bath Accessories

Thank You for Reading! We hope this guide has inspired you to explore the wonders of Japanese hot springs. Stay tuned for more articles on Japanese bathhouses and wellness.

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