Monday, 5 November 2012

Ahh, Onsen!

Definitely one of the highlights of visiting Japan is the onsen experience. When someone invites you for a nice soak, how do you refuse? Traditional onsens are natural communal bathing pools fed by hot springs. While that style is still around, commonly an onsen is a built bathing facility, either attached to a hotel or on its own. We were lucky to have repeated opportunities to visit an onsen.

An onsen isn't just a giant hot tub. Men and women get their own private sections and you use the onsen for bathing. There are little stations for rinsing, soaping and cleaning and then big, communal baths for soaking, au natural. It's fantastic.

While visiting Naoshima island, we had the opportunity to enjoy a funky onsen in the town of Miyanoura. Since Naoshima is all about art and installations, the onsen is half bath, half art project.

Here's the riot of an exterior.

A couple of exterior details, not your typical tile work.

The locker room on the way to the bath. One of the baths. The wall to the left with the perched elephant divides the bath in half, men on one side, women on the other. They switch sides every week or so.

A promo poster for the bath, showing what the place looks like when enjoyed. Don't you want a soak now?

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