What is an onsen(温泉)?Onsen bathing has a long history and is enshrined in Japanese culture. Its roots can be traced back more than 1,000 years when it was used as a purification ritual in the ancient religion of Shinto(神道)
Later, during the Edo period, it became popular with ordinary citizens who visited the hot springs as part cleanse their minds and bodies and promote better health. Today, there are more than 26,000 onsens in Japan, and they are popular with locals and tourists alike.
Benefits from Mineral Composition of Onsen
There are 11 different categories of hot springs in Japan, which are classified according to their mineral composition. The most widespread is the sulphur hot spring, which can be recognized by its distinctive odor. Sulphur hot springs are common in mountain regions and can be considered the typical type of hot spring in Japan. Sulphur hot springs such as those at Shiobara Onsen(塩原温泉) in Tochigi(栃木) and Unzen Onsen(雲仙温泉) in Nagasaki(長崎) soften the skin and are said to help bring relief for skin ailments and rashes, although the waters can irritate, so people with delicate skin should use caution. At Kinugawa Onsen(鬼怒川温泉) in Tochigi(栃木), Hakone Onsen(箱根温泉) in Kanagawa(神奈川) and Dogo Onsen(道後温泉) in Ehime(愛媛), the onsen are simple springs with colorless, odorless waters ideal for beginners. They are also soft and gentle to the skin. These waters are said to be good for neuralgia and back pain.
Alkaline soda hot springs, like Hokkaido’s Noboribetsu Onsen(登別温泉) and Saga’s Ureshino Onsen(嬉野温泉), are recommended for women, as they supposedly beautify the skin. Hydrogen carbonate hot springs, rich in carbonation, are characterized by the fine bubbles that form on bathers’ skin; one of these is Tamagawa Onsen(玉川温泉) in Akita(秋田). This type of hot spring supposedly dilates the capillaries, helping lower blood pressure.
The waters of iron hot springs, rich in iron, are rust-colored; the best-known iron hot springs are Naruko Onsen(鳴子温泉), in Miyagi(宮城), and Yoshino Onsen(吉野温泉), in Nara(奈良). Recommended for those with anemia, but if you dip a white towel in the water, it will turn red.
Chloride hot springs like those at Jozankei Onsen(定山渓温泉) in Hokkaido(北海道) and Yugawara Onsen(湯河原温泉) in Kanagawa(神奈川), are effective for warming the body and good for those who suffer from cold hands and feet, gynecological disorders, and so on.
Among the many other types are acid springs and sulfate springs, supposedly effective for healing wounds (Zao Onsen(蔵王温泉) in Yamagata(山形), Minakami Onsen(水上温泉) in Gunma(群馬),Atami Onsen(熱海温泉) in Shizuoka(静岡), etc.), radium springs for relief of rheumatism and digestive tract ailments (Yamanashi’s Masutomi Onsen(増富温泉), etc.) and boric acid springs (Minoo Onsen(箕面温泉) in Osaka(大阪), which are reportedly good for eye diseases.
Please note that hot springs are “purported” to have efficacy but that their effectiveness has not been medically proven.
Some hot spring waters can also be drink. You can tell when this is the case from the drinking cups placed near the taps from which the waters flow.
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.Skin conditions can also be helped with onsen.
Skin conditions can also be helped with onsen
- In natural hot springs, there is something called silica that can actually really help your skin.
- If you have eczema or psoriasis, the sulfur in the water really helps to heal it.
- Sulfur is used to make collagen, which keeps your skin healthy and smooth.
- Sulfur also helps with dry scalp, arthritis, and other possible medical conditions.