Firstly if you think I have body confidence you are mistaken. My pale chubby body is not a sight for sore eyes, even mine. I have gained a little weight since the wedding and I am not happy about it.
I do appreciate my body, don’t get me wrong, it is fairly healthy and fairly strong but it does look way better by candle light. I do believe in women loving themselves but I also understand that having body confidence is all in your head. And confidence grows from confidence so you can judge me all you want but my insecurities are not going away with a talk about how I should be proud of my body.
Now I am not.
So let’s get back to Onsens. Onsens are like hot tubs but more like a the kids bathing pool. They are hot, they have to be a minimum of 37 degrees and have a minimum of 19 different minerals. Two of the Onsens we visited were 51 degrees
and were so hot we felt like we were cooking!
Most places will supply you with a kimono dressing gown cover called a yukata,belt, socks and the most uncomfortable flip flops ever. They are heinous but slow you down. This whole outfit forces you to take your time and relax. I loved it so much and you can sleep in them too if you want to. The yukata not the flip flops.
The men and women are divided so you only get naked infront of other women, few.
You go to a room full of baskets. Turn your basket the right way up and fill it with your bits. I left everything in the room so I just had what I was wearing.
When dressing women tie at the front and men tie at the back. Also the left lapel goes over the top. The right only goes over the top when you are dead!
There is a modesty towel. It’s fricken tiny it barely reaches from boob to boob but it does cover your vagina so you don’t need to worry about your front. The whole rest of your body is on display. Oh boy…. I am not sure exactly what I was so afraid of until an American goddess with a perfect body entered the room. She was leaving and I was getting in so I hid in the loo till she left.
Because I had no confidence!
A few rules
The first Onsen I went to the lighting was nice and low so it helped me build my confidence. No it didn’t it just meant I didn’t run as fast to the Onsen like I did in the second one. After my fourth Onsen I was a bit less caring about what only her people thought of me and more concerned with how long I had been outside for!
It’s a hot bath which you share, this means you have to be clean going in. They have these tiny stalls with tiny stools you sit on and wash yourself. There is soap shampoo and conditioner but you don’t have to get your hair wet at all. You must clean yourself to keep the experience as hygienic as possible.
There are also shower heads, taps and a cute wooden bucket that you fill and splash over yourself. When I was alone I really enjoyed this process as the room is heated by the Onsens so you stay nice and warm. It’s a strange but pleasant way to wash and if I could get an Onsen in my garden in London I would, not a hot tub an actual onsen.
So far I have been in a Onsen alone, with a goddess ( she joined me the next night) and with a Japanese family and then a room full of Japanese beauty’s.
It was all fine no one cared.
I will go in again and again and get the most of the Onsens. We are in Japan at a quiet time of the year so I have been lucky that none of the Onsens have been full. I need to work on my confidence. I also need to work on my body. It’s not bad but it could be better!
Tattoos and Onsens
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but tattoos are generally not accepted in Onsens. I found one out of the five I visit were accepted and that was because it was a private Onsen.
I bought some tattoo covers with me and these are exceptable but if you have larger tattoos then you might face some issues.
From what I have read the reason Japan hates tattoos is because years ago prisoners used to be tattooed as a punishment. Then the yakuza decided to decorate the tattoos even more making this punishment a rite of passage instead. Yakuza had a lot of control in Japan so Japan decided to ban all tattoos from Onsens this making a huge statement to Japanese gangsters that they are not welcome.
Flash forward to modern times and things are changing but it is important to respect the traditions. You are not going to change anything by kicking up a fuss.
How did I feel about my tattoo
Well, honestly I felt like it was a hindrance. I had the stickers and I had to buy more but I was more worried about being kicked out for having a tattoo which came with a certain amount of shame that I had never felt before. I felt better when I had a cover up or I snuck in when there was no one around! But I did feel like I was sneaking.
I am sure if you search for them there are plenty of places that have no care for tattoos but like I said, 4/5 did. And we traveled a nice amount.
An Onsen life for me
We squeezed in as much Onsen action as we could and I swear it helped with the jetlag as we never suffered any!! These baths are open air relaxation and I enjoyed them immensely. In Zao Onsen they hawks closed off the open site but bit you could see the piles snow, it was beautiful but we weren’t allowed outside.