What is ONSEN? – Part 2

This is the continuation of the “What is ONSEN? – Part 1”.

If you have not read Part 1, would suggest to read it first.

What is ONSEN? – Part 1

 

As written in Part 1, ONSEN is classified to multiple groups by certain parameters, such as “pH”, “osmotic pressure”, and “spring quality”. In this part 2, I will share how ONSEN is classified by spring quality and what kind of features each spring quality has.

 

Classification by 泉質 (Spring quality)

 

There are 10 classified spring quality of ONSEN in Japan as below.

 

  • 単純泉 (Simple spring)
  • 塩化物泉 (Chloride spring)
  • 炭酸水素塩泉 (Hydrogen carbonate spring)
  • 硫酸塩泉 (Sulfate spring)
  • 二酸化炭素泉 (Carbon dioxide spring)
  • 含鉄泉 (Iron containing spring)
  • 硫黄泉 (Sulfur spring)
  • 酸性泉 (Acidic spring)
  • 放射能泉 (Radioactive spring)
  • 含ヨウ素泉 (Iodine containing spring)

 

Once an ONSEN is registered as Medical ONSEN, it is officially named with its spring quality. Depending on the combination of “Plus ion” and “Minus ion”, the name starts from stronger components to weaker components in order, like “Sodium, calcium, chloride spring”. In this case, “Sodium” and “Calcium” are “Plus ion”, and “Chloride spring” is “Minus ion”.

 

Among these 10 kinds of spring quality, “鳴子温泉郷 (NARUKO ONSEN KYO)” in MIYAGI Prefecture, which is regarded as the mecca of ONSEN in East Japan, covers 8 kinds of spring quality except for Hydrogen carbonate spring and Radioactive spring. On the other hand, “別府温泉 (BEPPU ONSEN)” in OITA Prefecture, which is regarded as the mecca of ONSEN in West Japan, covers 7 kinds of spring quality except for Radioactive spring, Carbon dioxide spring, and Iodine containing spring. Thanks for this wide variety of ONSEN they have, these 2 places have been the representing places for 湯治 (TOUJI) for long time where people love to gather.

 

I will explain the detailed feature of each type of spring quality below.

 

単純泉 (Simple spring): gentle ONSEN to your skin

 

Simple spring is the ONSEN which the water temperature at source is more than 25°C but none of 19 kinds of specific components don’t meet the predetermined value. Although all 19 components are under the predetermined value, in some simple spring the value of components reaches close to the predetermined value, thus you can expect certain effects. Also, the fact that none of 19 components don’t reach the predetermined value means that no specific components have outstanding score, thus it is well balanced and mild. It has soft texture and less stimulation to your skin, thus it is very good for those who have sensitive skin like elderly and kids. Needless to say, it is far better than bathing in a bath with a bathing agent.

 

Candidates of destination

  • 道後温泉 (DOUGO ONSEN) in EHIME Prefecture
  • 修善寺温泉 (SHUZENJI ONSEN) in SHIZUOKA Prefecture
  • 湯布院温泉 (YUFUIN ONSEN) in OITA Prefecture

 

Related article of SHUZEN JI ONSEN: SHUZEN JI ONSEN – Beautiful ONSEN town with historical temples

 

塩化物泉 (Chloride spring): ONSEN with high moisturizing effect

 

Chloride spring contains more than 1,000mg of dissolved substances (excluding gas) per 1kg of water, and its main component of minus ion is chloride ion. Depending on the main component of plus ion, it is further classified into “Sodium – chloride spring”, “Calcium – chloride spring”, and “Magnesium – chloride spring” etc. It is the ONSEN which Japan, an island country, has a lot. Actually it has the 2nd largest number following Simple spring in Japan. Since the salt is the main component, it tastes salty. It also tastes bitter if it has more magnesium. By bathing in this chloride spring, the salt covers the surface of your skin, thus it prevents evaporation of sweat which leads to moisturize your skin and keep your body warm longer.

 

Candidates of destination

  • 定山渓温泉 (JOUZANKEI ONSEN) in HOKKAIDO Prefecture
  • 白浜温泉 (SHIRAHAMA ONSEN) in WAKAYAMA Prefecture
  • 城崎温泉 (KINOSAKI ONSEN) in HYOGO Prefecture

 

炭酸水素塩泉 (Hydrogen carbonate spring): ONSEN to cleanse your skin

 

Hydrogen carbonate spring contains more than 1,000mg of dissolved substances (excluding gas) per 1kg of water, and its main component of minus ion is hydrogen carbonate ion. Depending on the main component of plus ion, it is further classified into “Sodium – hydrogen carbonate spring”, “Calcium – hydrogen carbonate spring”, and “Magnesium – hydrogen carbonate spring” etc. The calcareous precipitation is sometimes generated by from “calcium – hydrogen carbonate spring”.

 

Bathing in “Sodium – hydrogen carbonate spring” has a good effect to soften the surface of the skin, and it is very good for skin diseases, skin burns, and cuts. Also since it emulsifies and cleanses the skin just like the soup. Your skin exhales the vapor from the surface, thus you may have refreshing cool feeling. By drinking it, it has an effect to neutralize the stomach acid.

 

Both “Calcium – hydrogen carbonate spring” and “Magnesium – hydrogen carbonate spring” have the similar effects with above by bathing in. And if you drink them, it enhances a diuretic effect as well as excretory process of uric acid, thus it is good for gout, urinary stone, and cystitis. It also has a good effect for diabetes since it stabilizes the blood sugar level.

 

Candidates of destination

  • 東鳴子温泉 (HIGASHI NARUKO ONSEN) in MIYAGI Perfecture
  • 湯村温泉 (YUMURA ONSEN) in HYOGO Prefecture
  • 別府温泉 (BEPPU ONSEN) in OITA Prefecture

 

Related article of HIGASHI NARUKO ONSEN: RYOKAN ONUMA – A MECCA FOR TOUJI – Part 1

Related article of YUMURA ONSEN: The town named ONSEN – YUMURA ONSEN, HYOGO Prefecture

 

硫酸塩泉 (Sulfate spring): ONSEN to prevent modern diseases

 

Sulfate spring contains more than 1,000mg of dissolved substances (excluding gas) per 1kg of water, and its main component of minus ion is sulfate ion. Depending on the main component of plus ion, it is further classified into “Sodium – sulfate spring”, “Calcium – sulfate spring”, and “Magnesium – sulfate spring” etc.

 

Bathing in “Sodium – sulfate spring” has a good effect for high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, and external wound, and sodium makes your body warmer. Drinking it has a good effect for constipation, diabetes, obesity, and gout.

 

Bathing in “Calcium – sulfate spring” has a good effect for high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, stroke, rheumatism, cuts, skin burns, hemorrhoids, sprain, and skin diseases. Drinking it has a good effect for nettle rash.

 

“Magnesium – sulfate spring” has the same effects with above by bathing and drinking, and especially it is good for high blood pressure and improves paralysis which happens after a stroke.

 

Candidates of destination

  • 四万温泉 (SHIMA ONSEN) in GUNMA Prefecture
  • 山代温泉 (YAMASHIRO ONSEN) in ISHIKAWA Prefecture
  • 西山温泉 (NISHIYAMA ONSEN) in YAMANASHI Prefecture

 

Related article of SHIMA ONSEN: SEKIZEN KAN AT SHIMA ONSEN – THE OLDEST WOODEN ONSEN HOTEL IN JAPAN

Related article of NISHIYAMA ONSEN: World’s oldest hotel in Guinness World Record with 1300 years history

 

二酸化炭素泉 (Carbon dioxide spring): ONSEN for good blood circulation

 

Carbon dioxide spring contains more than 1,000mg of carbon dioxide per 1kg of water. If you bathe in it, the bubbles of carbonic acid are attached at your body and feel refreshing and cool. You can enjoy its effect more by bathing calmly so that the bubbles don’t pop.

 

The carbonate acid is absorbed into your skin and it expands the capillaries, thus it enhances your blood circulation. Since it enhances blood circulation, it warms your body very much even if the water temperature is comparatively low. In addition, it enhances blood circulation without increasing your heart beat, thus it is effective to lower the blood pressure. This is why this spring has a good effect for high blood pressure and heart diseases.

 

If you drink it, it is so refreshing and go down well.

 

There are comparatively small number of this carbon dioxide spring in Japan.

 

Candidates of destination

  • 長湯温泉 (NAGAYU ONSEN) in OITA Prefecture
  • みちのく温泉 (MICHINOKU ONSEN) in AOMORI Prefecture
  • 七里田温泉 (SHICHIRIDA ONSEN) in OITA Prefecture

 

含鉄泉 (Iron containing spring): ONSEN good for women

 

Iron containing spring contains more than 20mg of iron ion (iron (II) or iron (III)) per 1kg of water. Depending on the main component of minus ion, it is further classified into “Hydrogen carbonate” type and “Sulfate” type. When this spring is exposed to the air, it turns red by oxidation of iron.

 

By bathing in it, this iron has a good effect for the various symptoms which women tend to have, such as rheumatism, menopausal disorder, menstrual disorder, and sensitivity to cold. By drinking it, it has good effect for anemia.

 

Candidates of destination

  • 有馬温泉 (ARIMA ONSEN) in HYOGO Prefecture
  • 鉄輪温泉 (KANNAWA ONSEN) in OITA Prefecture
  • 鳴子温泉 (NARUKO ONSEN) in MIYAGI Prefecture

 

硫黄泉 (Sulfur spring): ONSEN to prevent lifestyle diseases

 

Sulfur spring contains more than 2mg of sulfur per 1kg of water. It is further classified to “Sulfur” type and “Hydrogen sulfide” type. There are comparatively large number of this sulfur spring in Japan. Its unique smell like putrid smell of eggs comes from its hydrogen sulfide, and you are advised to bathe in it with ventilation.

 

It clears your throat, and has good effect for arteriosclerosis, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome. It is also effective to prevent spots and specks, decompose the melanin, rheumatism, and skin diseases.

 

Since sulfur has a strong effect, elderly, kids, and those who are poor in health are not advised to bathe in it. Also, if you wear accessories, you are advised to take it off because it becomes discolored.

 

Candidates of destination

  • 登別温泉 (NOBORIBETSU ONSEN) in HOKKAIDO Prefecture
  • 高湯温泉 (TAKAYU ONSEN) in FUKUSHIMA Prefecture
  • 万座温泉 (MANZA ONSEN) in GUNMA Prefecture
  • 月岡温泉 (TSUKIOKA ONSEN) in NIIGATA Prefecture

 

酸性泉 (Acidic spring): ONSEN for skin diseases

 

Acidic spring contains more than 1mg of hydrogen ion per 1kg of water. It literally has high acidity with low pH score. If you drink it, it tastes a little sour, and it has bactericidal effect. Although this acidic spring can be rarely found in Europe, there are a lot across Japan.

 

Since this acidic spring has a strong stimulation, elderly, kids, and those who are poor in health are not advised to bathe in it. When you bathe in it, it sometimes make your skin sting, but it does have a peeling effect and good for skin diseases.

 

Candidates of destination

  • 酸ヶ湯温泉 (SUKAYU ONSEN) in AOMORI Prefecture
  • 後生掛温泉 (GOSHOGAKE ONSEN) in AKITA Prefecture
  • 草津温泉 (KUSATSU ONSEN) in GUNMA Prefecture

 

Related article of SUKAYU ONSEN: 酸ヶ湯温泉 (SUKAYU ONSEN) where traditional and new style of TOUJI mix

 

放射能泉 (Radioactive spring): ONSEN for gout

 

Radioactive spring contains more than 3 nano curies (8.25 mache unit) of radon per 1kg of water. When you hear the word “radioactive”, you might have impression that it would be dangerous to harm your body, but actually the amount of radioactive in this spring is much less than the one used in X-ray. Actually it is proven that infinitesimal amount of radioactive would rather affect body well. Radon is absorbed very well, and it is good for gout and diabetes by both bathing and drinking. There are less amount of this spring in Japan, thus it is precious ONSEN.

 

Candidates of destination

  • 栃尾又温泉 (TOCHIOMATA ONSEN) in NIIGATA Prefecture
  • 増富ラジウム温泉郷 (MASUTOMI Radium ONSEN KYO) in YAMANASHI Prefecture
  • 三朝温泉 (MISASA ONSEN) in TOTTORI Prefecture

 

含ヨウ素泉 (Iodine containing spring): ONSEN to increase metabolism

 

Iodine containing spring contains more than 10mg of iodide ion per 1kg of water. Many of them are non-volcanic spring, and the color changes to yellow as time passes. Iodine has strong oxidizability and bactericidal effect. It is often used for mouthwash and ointment. Iodine is the major component of thyroid hormone, and it has effect to increase the metabolism. Thus, it accelerates the growth of skin and hair, lower the cholesterol, and prevent arteriosclerosis as well.

 

However, for those who have “hyperthyroidism”, too much iodine could be taboo, thus it has to be bathed carefully.

 

Drinking it has a good effect for hypercholesterolemia.

 

Candidates of destination

  • 大手町温泉 (OTEMACHI ONSEN) in TOKYO
  • 新屋温泉 (ARAYA ONSEN) in AKITA Prefecture
  • 西方の湯 (SAIHO NO YU) in NIIGATA Prefecture

 

Now, you must be an expert of ONSEN!! I hope this information would be helpful for you to choose your best fit ONSEN.

 

Related article: What is ONSEN? – Part 1

Related article: Your first experience of TOUJI – Enjoy different way of ONSEN trip

Related articles about ONSEN:http://onsen-wakipedia.com/category/onsen/

 

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