Source - History / Ritual & Experience / Effects
In the Japanese language, the word Onsen means Natural Hot Springs. There are thousands of highly popular Onsens all across Japan. Every region of the country has its share of hot springs and resort towns, which come with them. The Onsen experience is an integral part of Japan’s history and has been around for centuries. Although Onsens first became ultra popular as destinations in themselves sometime during the Heian Period, many onsens have a history dating back to the earliest years of Japanese settlement. It is likely that the Ainu and wildlife made use of the thermal waters even before this. For example the Yunoyama Onsen in the Suzuka Kokutei Park near Gozaisho-Dake in Mie, not far west of Nagoya, was located in the eighth century by hunters who discovered that deer were enjoying a good hot soak in its waters - to this day Yunoyama's nickname remains "Deer Onsen".
The Japanese elevated the act of taking a bath into that of an artistic ritual. Hot spring baths come in many varieties, indoors and outdoors, gender separated and mixed, developed and undeveloped. Many hot spring baths belong to a ryokan (Traditional Japanese Inn) while others are public bath houses. Highly industrious and subject to crowded living conditions and a fast pace of life, the Japanese culture and people developed the ability to balance the contradictory elements of their lifestyle. The Onsen experience is an example of this balance. The popularity of the Hot Springs is due to the nature of the water and the unique minerals they carry from deep in the earth’s crust. It’s a ritual that involves a pause for regeneration of body, mind and spirit; a renewal, grounding and reconnection with the natural elements that cleanse, nourish and provide for us daily.
Overall the Onsen hot spring is known for
its relaxing effect on body and mind. Soaking in onsen waters brings
with it an immediate effect of calmness, healing and rejuvenation. The
healing powers of the onsen have intrigued explorers, who have tried
over many centuries to uncover the onsen's secrets. It is also
distinguished by the unique minerals dissolved in the micro, actively
charged water that spring from deep underground. Different minerals
provide different health benefits, and their specific healing properties
are something each Onsen is known for. In recent year, extensive
research has been done to examine the healing effects these unique
minerals have as skin specific nutrients, skin repair and restoration