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Why are Japanese baths so hot?


Japanese baths are popular worldwide, and one of the things that make them unique is their high temperature. In this article, we’ll be exploring why Japanese baths are so hot and the cultural significance that surrounds them.

History of Japanese Baths

Japanese baths, also known as onsen, have been around for centuries. The first onsen was discovered in 712 AD in Osaka, Japan. These hot springs were believed to have healing powers and were used for medicinal purposes.

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The Significance of Bathing in Japanese Culture

Bathing is an important aspect of Japanese culture. It is seen as a way to purify oneself and wash away impurities. In addition, bathing is also used as a way to relax and unwind after a long day.

Hot Water Therapy

The high temperature of Japanese baths is not just for show. It is believed that the hot water can help improve blood circulation, reduce stress, and relieve muscle tension. This practice is known as hot water therapy.

The Benefits of Hot Water Therapy

Hot water therapy has been found to have numerous health benefits. It can help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and improve sleep quality.

The Role of Minerals

Many Japanese baths are rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and sodium. These minerals are thought to have therapeutic properties that can help promote healing and relaxation.

The Importance of Cleanliness

Cleanliness is highly valued in Japanese culture, especially when it comes to bathing. Before entering a Japanese bath, it is customary to thoroughly wash oneself in order to maintain the purity of the water.

Social Aspects of Japanese Baths

Bathing in Japan is often a communal activity. In many onsen, men and women bathe separately but there are also co-ed onsens. Bathing together is seen as a way to bond and strengthen social relationships.

Onsen Etiquette

There are certain rules and customs that must be followed when visiting a Japanese bath. Some of these include washing oneself thoroughly before entering the bath, not wearing any clothing or swimsuits inside the bath, and not splashing or making loud noises.

Variety of Baths

There are many different types of Japanese baths available, each with their own unique characteristics. Some onsens have outdoor baths, some have indoor baths, some have multiple pools with varying temperatures, while others may feature waterfalls or other natural features.

Changing Seasons

The temperature of Japanese baths may vary depending on the season. During the winter months, the water may be hotter to help combat the cold weather. In contrast, during the summer months, the water may be cooler to help cool down the body.

The Future of Japanese Baths

Despite their long history and popularity in Japan, some traditional onsens have been struggling to attract younger generations due to the rise of modern bathing facilities. However, efforts are being made to preserve this important aspect of Japanese culture for generations to come.


In conclusion, Japanese baths are so hot because they offer numerous health benefits through hot water therapy and mineral-rich waters. Additionally, they hold cultural significance for the people of Japan as a way to cleanse oneself and bond with others. Whether you’re a tourist or a local resident, experiencing a traditional onsen should definitely be on your list of things to do in Japan.

How do Japanese baths stay hot?

In Japanese homes, bathtubs come with a lid that helps keep the water warm for the next person to use. Modern versions of these bathtubs, known as ofuro, come with temperature control and have a rectangular shape that is deeper than western-style bathtubs, measuring around 60-70 centimeters in depth.

How hot are Japanese public baths?

An onsen is a type of bath that uses water from a natural thermal spring, with a temperature typically around 104 degrees Fahrenheit. According to government regulations enforced by the Hot Spring Law, the water temperature cannot be lower than 77 degrees.

How long do Japanese people soak in the bath?

According to a survey, over 80% of individuals in Japan take a relaxing bath for at least 30 minutes daily, making the bathroom a significant part of Japanese homes. This data was collected in March 2011.

Why are bathing suits not allowed in onsen?

Onsen bathing areas do not permit clothing or bathing suits as they are considered sacred places that must maintain cleanliness. This is because any dirt and soap brought in from outside can contaminate the hot spring waters and compromise hygiene.

How many times do Japanese take a bath in a day?

Taking a bath is a daily ritual for many Japanese individuals, and in Japan, showering alone is not considered sufficient. While in certain regions of the world, showering may be referred to as taking a bath, this is not the case in Japan.

Should I shower after onsen?

It is advised that you avoid taking a shower after soaking in an onsen, as washing away the minerals may reduce their healing properties. However, it is suggested that taking a short cold shower or bath after leaving the onsen can have its own health benefits.

In addition to traditional onsens, there are also modern public bathhouses known as sentos in Japan. These facilities offer similar hot water therapy benefits but with a more modern twist, often featuring jet baths, saunas, and even massage services.

While many onsens and sentos require visitors to be completely naked while bathing, there are also private baths available for those who are more comfortable with some privacy. These private baths can be rented out for a set amount of time and are perfect for couples or families.

For those who are unable to travel to Japan to experience an onsen or sento firsthand, there are now virtual onsen experiences available online. Through the use of 360-degree cameras and virtual reality technology, viewers can immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of a traditional Japanese bath.

Overall, whether experienced in person or virtually, Japanese baths offer a unique and culturally significant way to relax and improve one’s health. With their long history and continued popularity, it’s clear that Japanese baths will continue to be an important part of Japanese culture for years to come.

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