Japanese society is often criticized as a suffocated society bound firmly by thousands of implicit voluntary rules and manners which is not put in the official statutory form.

There is a movement that even some Japanese criticize Japanese cultural rules and manners that has inherited since ancient times and insist on and try to realize a society which is not constrained by traditional customs and based on liberalism which has been reasonably established by western countries.

Nowadays, those who criticize Japanese traditional customs always pay only attention to bad aspects of customs which is reduced to a formality.

Rules and manners are basically the arrangements in order to keep good balance of a society or a community that every one of residents can make comfortably a living there.

Rules and manners’ source must be from your conscience with your thoughts of putting yourself in the other person’s shoe. If you understand this, your behavior tends naturally to be adjusted to what Japanese rules and manners require you.

If such a person who think too many rules bind us increase in a Japanese society, people’s thoughts tend to be shifting to pretty much egoism.

Speaking too much introductory remark, I will take up the main topic about Onsen rules here. Of course we have so many rules but please lear n Onsen manners I introduce here with your understanding of my introductory remarks. It is very important to focus on how well you consider the background of things which you can see a superficial part even if you think it unreasonable.

General households don’t have a bathroom after WWⅡ

In the period of time when WWⅡwas over, Japan was not really wealthy country. It was common that a general household didn’t have a bathroom. So people always go to Sento which is public bath after working. In that times, people naturally learned the understanding of implicit rules to progress towards comfortable place for anybody who use Sento.

The standards of rules and manners are different depending on the generation or the personality. However, the standard to keep rules for Japanese people of those days was how they could imagine beforehand what other people feel trouble. This is all. “Don’t do things to people you wouldn’t like having done to you” is the principle. If every single person who use Onsen understand this, there is no need to have rules for Onsen.

Please at least remember these passwords before you enter Japanese Onsen.

  • Don’t make dirty
  • Don’t make noise
  • Don’t occupy too much space

Onsen etiquettes when you have a bath


Kake-yu is a behavior you pour hot water or Onsen water to your body before you enter.

This behavior tend to be thought to be a manner to clean your body before you enter Onsen. However, this behavior is the one to make your body to get used to a temperature of Onsen.

If entering Onsen all of sudden, there is a risk of heart stork and in the worst case, you may lose consciousness in Onsen. To avoid this worst case, this behavior is recommended to reduce this kind of physical risk.

When you do Kake-yu, you start pouring hot water to body parts which is away from your heart such as your hands and foot. When you get used to the temperature, you pour hot water to your shoulder.

Bundle your long hair or confine it in Hair nets

If you have hair long enough to reach your shoulder, you need to think how you treat your hair not to put it in Onsen because it is insanitary if dust or dandruff coming out of your hair drops in Onsen water.

The following countermoves are common in Japan

  • Bundle your hair with a hair band
  • Cover your hair with a small towel
  • Wear a heart net

Of course, you must not dive into water and wash your head with Onsen water coming out of pouring hole.

I want to believe there is no such a person but just in case.

Don’t rub your body inside Onsen

Onsen water needs to keep clean with everyone’s consideration because unspecified large number of people dip into hot water. Don’t do the behavior that dirties Onsen.

Just before getting into Onsen water, you just take a shower and clean up your body. Of course, you should remove your make-up, too

Don’t put your towel into Onsen water

Wet towel that even looks clean has germs inside and if you put it into Onsen water, water comes to be insanitary. It is the same thing you put towel in the corner of a bathtub that onsen water comes up and down.

If the Onsen facility prepares shelves for towel, you should put it on but in the case no towel shelve is prepared, you should put towel on the top of your head while you dip into Onsen wanter.

Sometimes, I see a person entering Onsen, who wrap a bath towel around a body. It is also no good. Onsen is a place to enjoy nakedly.

Don’t occupy a barrel type bath for one person for long time

15 minutes for one person is appropriate as a rule of thumb when you use barrel type bath. If you might think you want to keep bathing more because no one makes a queue in front of a bathtub you are taking.

Basically, there is no one who lines up to wait for enjoying specific bath but if people make sure the bath they try to take is occupied by someone, they go to take another bath and check until you get out at a distance.

You just perceive sensitively the feeling that someone want to take a bath you’ re taking now and you are just willing to give it up.

Don’t occupy a place by many people

Even if you and your friends are regular visitors coming frequently enough to contribute to Onsen faciality’s benefit, you don’t have any reasons to occupy one place forcibly for long hours and threaten someone who tries to come into your territory.

These people tend to target a bath tab for 4 to 5 people and occupy long time.
Whether you come often or not has nothing to do with behaving big in Onsen. Be nice to other people, and be friendly to other people who comes even for the first time.

Don’t take your eyes off from your kid if you bring your child with you in Onsen.

So many troubles and accidents concerning baby kid occur every year in some Onsen facilities. You always care about your kid while you are with kind in Onsen even if you don’t feel safe all the time.

Some of Onsen bath tub has more than 90 cm depth and if your kid drops in, it is an accident. There are so many people coming to Onsen, just keep your eyes on your kid all the time while you are in Onsen.

Onsen facility is not a playroom for kids

Public bathing facility is unmistakably a place to enjoy Onsen but not a place to let kids play around.

Running, jumping into water, swimming are annoyance behaviors for other people. You don’t need to be hard on your kid to educate manners but you should guide your kid how to use Onsen properly.

Don’t lie down wherever you happen to be

It is a usual sight that people lied down anywhere to take a rest for cooling down their hot body. I clearly say those people are so obstructive on my way.

If you are non-Japanese, you never does this thing but if you want to take a rest for cooling down your body in a glow, you should use a resting place once after you get out of Onsen.

Please take care of your body condition

While you dip into Onsen water, you actually keep sweating inside and you easily get dehydrated without realizing it. Especially bathing after drinking makes you easily dehydrated.

So if you enter Onsen, take a rest frequently and don’t forget to have a water as often as you take a rest.

Wipe your body before entering a sauna room

If you enter a sauna room with your dripping wet body, mattress spread on a floor get wet. Before entering a sauna room, you wipe your body with squeezed towel.

Refrain from talking during bedrock bathing

Bedrock bathroom is narrow enough to easily resonate talking voice. People who enjoy bedrock bathing are half asleep with eyes closed. Don’t disturb other people taking a rest.

If you want to talk to someone, you go outside.

Wash away your sweat when you enter a water bath

After sauna bathing, you are all covered in dripping sweat. You can imagine how other people feel if you enter a water bath without washing your body.

You don’t need to wash your body with soap but just wash away your sweat by a pail of water or shower before entering.

Don’t take a nap during bedrock bathing

You can’t control yourself while you take a nap. How you can realize that you toss and turn around and your hands or leges touch someone or snore pretty noisily while you napping? Here is not a place to sleep.

Onsen etiquettes in a washing place

You can’t reserve a shower booth

There is no system to reserve a showroom by putting your stuff in it. Every one of shower booths can be used by anyone freely. You can’t occupy one shower booth for long time. Principally, if you move away from a shower booth, you must give it up for anyone else.

Put things back to an original place

Shampoo and body soap are provided for free in most of Onsen facilities. When you use it to wash your hair or body, you just put it back to an original place.

In addition, you should clean bath chair with bath pail and put your fallen hair into a dust box

Please pay attention to how you treat a place which you used from the viewpoint of how people can use Onsen comfortably.

Please go to a restroom before taking a bath

Please don’ t do the unfavorable behaviors on public hygiene. Please read lines from the subtitle about what I want to tell you. I don’t want to explain anymore…

Look your dripping wet feet before entering a dressing room.

Don’t wet a floor of dressing room. Before opening a door of dressing room, wipe your body with your face towel squeezed firmly.

Don’t spray the water to other people with shower

Do you make sure if there is someone behind you when you take a shower or consider that someone next to you is caught in the spray of you shower?

Look around before you take shower and control it not to spray to someone. Don’t take a shower while standing. You just sit on bath chair when you take a shower.

Don’t enter Onsen when you are sick and have stomachache or have your period

Even while Onsen opens, water inside bathtub is all removed. You know the reason why. Someone blows up a bomb inside his/her stomach while dipping into Onsen. This is a terrorism. Ahh… I don’t even want to imagine this situation

If you are sick, keep away from Onsen.

Don’t bring your stuff except for something you need to wash your body in a bath house

Don’t bring books, foods, toy inside a bath house. Onsen is not your house. This is a place to put yourself at east but it is not that you can behave in a self-indulgent manner. Do not do the same thing which you always do at home.

Pay attention to the volume of your sound

Onsen is a place to relax. Noisy talking sound will disturb someone’s relaxing time. You just care about the volume of your sound when you talk to somebody.

Don’t use Onsen except for the purpose of bathing.

Onsen is not a place to do pick-up or peeping. These your secret intentions show your true colors sooner or later. It is a matter of time about whether a police is called. Just control yourself and think about where you are.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *