Coming from a hot country, Japanese onsens sounded unique and strange. Even though many people around me recommended going to an onsen, the idea of sitting in a hot bath in a steaming room did not seem like a fulfilling experience.
A friend invited me to Kinosaki onsen in Hyogo during the winter. I was so cold, I thought any place warm would be enjoyable. From Osaka, we made our way to Kinosaki and found ourselves in a quaint little town covered with snow. It looked like the exact picture you would imagine of a traditional Japanese town in winter, perfect for a postcard. The town is made up of small shops and ryokans (traditional Japanese-style hotels), along a small river with tiny bridges sprinkled all over. The guests meander the streets in their yukata robes and getas (traditional Japanese wooden sandals), for a moment I felt like I had travelled back in time.
The best part of the trip was sitting in an outdoor onsen, with the snow covering the rocks and the air crisp and biting, then submerging myself in the warm water bath. It was an unexpectedly and blissfully relaxing experience. From that moment onwards, I was convinced, the Japanese onsen experience is without a doubt, the best thing you can ever do while you are in Japan!
Since that amazing trip, I have had the opportunity to visit amazing onsens across Japan. My favourites after that Kinosaki trip were, Wakayama, Arima and Hakone. I still wish to visit so many more while I am here. If you were ever unsure about onsens, believe me, they are better than you could ever imagine.
About the author:
Hi, my name is Sian. I’m from Zimbabwe and have been living in Japan for over seven years now. In my spare time I love writing, going to parks to read and traveling to different onsens around Japan. My favourite part about living in Japan is discovering beautiful, unique spots I can never find anywhere else in the world.