Why do I recommend to bathe in ONSEN even in summer?
You might think that ONSEN is only for winter because it warms your body in the cold temperature. Yes, ONSEN in winter is definitely wonderful and actually many Japanese people today also perceive like that. The scenery of ONSEN steam flowing also matches well with the cold winter.
However, I would like to recommend to bathe in ONSEN even in hot summer as well. Similarly to other countries, what happens in Japan in summer is that AC (Air conditioner) is too strong and your body easily get cold. Although AC is convenient and comfortable in the hot summer, if you keep staying in AC your body is getting chilled to the bone without even realizing it.
The idea of “冷え (HIE / body getting cold, chilled)” is originally from oriental medicine, and it has been treated as a crucial factor causing any diseases and disorders in China and Japan from ancient times. For instance, pregnant women are advised not to be chilled as the coldness gives bad effect to the baby, so that they try not to eat foods which cools body down nor stay in the cold environment.
Also, there’s a traditional custom in Japan that expectant mothers go to shrine to pray for the safe delivery at “戌の日 (INU NO HI / Dog’s Day)” in the 5th month of pregnancy. The “maternity belt” they received from shrine at that time to keep stomach warm is also representing this idea.
Summer vegetables, such as tomato, eggplant, and cucumber, have an effect to cool your body down, and that is why these vegetables are often cooked in summer.
In China, there is the thought “Yin and Yang (陰陽)” even in the foods, and Yin (陰) is the foods / ingredients to cool the body down, while Yang (陽) is the ones to warm the body. Thus, in most cases, these Yin and Yang are well mixed and balanced in Chinese foods. It is also recommended in China to drink lukewarm water or hot water instead of cold water to keep the body warm. Although such culture has been gradually fading away in Japan, but still many people, especially women taking care of health, believe it’s good to drink SAYU (白湯 / hot water).
Like this, Japanese people consciously or unconsciously recognize that HIE causes many disorders in the body. Especially women are more conscious about it as they tend to have poor blood circulation, and they often use ginger for cooking which also warms the body.
ONSEN makes your body warm just to bathe in it. It improves your blood circulation and make your muscle relaxed right away, just with an easy action to bathe in it. Let’s stretch yourself inside ONSEN. Let’s yawn inside ONSEN. And let’s take a deep breath inside ONSEN. Everything will be alright just by doing these simple actions.
Let me introduce the 3 best ONSEN recommended for hot summer.
There’s not only hot ONSEN but also cold ONSEN! According to Japan’s “Hot Spring Law”, the spring which the water temperature is more than 25°C “or” the spring which contains above certain amount of designated components such as Hydrogen ion and free carbon dioxide etc, are regarded as ONSEN. Thus, even if the water temperature is less than 25°C, this spring is regarded as ONSEN if it contains above certain amount of designated components. Such cold ONSEN is called “REISEN (冷泉)” and you might feel you are in the swimming pool.
1. KIRIZUMI ONSEN (霧積温泉) in GUNMA Prefecture, which gives an effect of “forest therapy”.
KIRIZUMI ONSEN is located inside the national park where vast nature is well preserved. Since it’s at the highland of 900 meter above sea level, the temperature is cool even in summer. It’s nestled in the fog which is full of mysterious atmosphere. “KINTO KAN (金湯館)”, a secret ONSEN inn in the valley, provides lukewarm ONSEN which is really good to bathe in summer. The water temperature at spring source is 39°C and it’s cooled down a bit further when the water is drawn into bathtub. It’s the best ONSEN place and ONSEN temperature for summer.
Detailed article about KIRIZUMI ONSEN: “Summer Retreat” at a historical ONSEN inn nestled deep in the forest
Official website of KINTO KAN: http://www.kirizumikintokan.com/
2. “HARATAKI (原瀧)” at AIZU HIGASHIYAMA ONSEN (会津東山温泉) in FUKUSHIMA Prefecture, which is surrounded by great nature
AIZU HIGASHIYAMA ONSEN (会津東山温泉) used to be the ONSEN place related to AIZU Domain (会津藩). “HARATAKI (原瀧)”, an ONSEN inn located along the stream with a waterfall, is famous for its KAWADOKO (川床 / riverbed) restaurant where you can enjoy nice cuisines right above the beautiful stream. KAWADOKO is the best place for you to feel cool & refreshing breeze from the stream. KYOTO is well known for this KAWADOKO restaurants, but this restaurant at HARATAKI is also a symbol of summer in AIZU.
Official website of HARATAKI: https://www.yumeguri.co.jp/
3. Super cold 14°C ONSEN “KANNO JIGOKU ONSEN (寒の地獄温泉)” in OITA Prefecture
KANNO JIGOKU ONSEN (寒の地獄温泉) started operation in 1849 during EDO Period, and surprisingly the amount of this “GENSEN KAKENAGASHI (源泉掛け流し / Free flowing ONSEN directly springing out from spring source)” is 2 tons per minute!
It has 2 bathes; one is REISEN (冷泉 / cold ONSEN) which the water temperature is 14°C, and the other is ONSEN which is heated up. It is suggested to bathe in REISEN first, and warm your body at the heating room once, and then bathe in the heated ONSEN. Such contrast bathing is what they are suggesting.
This 14°C REISEN is such cold that you will feel some stimulation on your skin. Recommended duration of bathing differs depending on your body strength and patience, but 1 or 2 minutes would be enough. This is why people have been calling it “KANNO JIGOKU (in English, cold hell)”.
Source of above images: Official website of KANNO JIGOKU: http://kannojigoku.jp/
Why don’t you try these best 3 ONSEN places for summer to keep your body healthy?