Everything You Need To Know About Onsens

Onsens can be intimidating, trust us, we know. We’re here to tell you that you’re not alone in thinking that which is why we’re going to give you a little crash course on what you need to know. If you’re about to make your way to Japan, and you’re looking to give an onsen a try for the first time, then you’re at the right place! 


What is an onsen?

Hilton Niseko Onsen. Photo from: Niseko Tourism

Onsen means hot spring in Japanese. This isn’t your ordinary hot spring. An onsen is more than a natural wonder, it is deep rooted in Japanese culture. An onsen is not simply a tub of hot water, to be characterized as one, it’s required to have a certain temperature and amount of minerals that are naturally present. 

What are the benefits of an onsen?

Kotobuki Onsen. Photo from Rusutsu Resort

The better question would be – where do we begin? Aside from alleviating stress and melting away your worries, onsens are known for their medicinal properties too that are beneficial to your health. So let’s zoom in on five of them;

Increased blood circulation

Onsen water, rich in up to 19 various minerals like calcium and sodium bicarbonate, is absorbed through the skin and into the body during bathing, enhancing blood flow and oxygen distribution. These natural elements not only contribute to the relaxation of muscles but also play a role in lowering blood pressure. The holistic benefits of onsen bathing extend beyond soothing experiences to promote overall well-being.


Bathing in an onsen after a refreshing shower extends to a thorough detoxification, removing dirt and impurities from the body. The hot, mineral-rich water promotes sweating, aiding in the elimination of toxins. Indulging in the serene atmosphere of an onsen not only offers a calming experience but also contributes to stress reduction, positively influencing the body’s detoxification processes.

Improve some skin conditions

The minerals present in onsen water offer significant benefits for the skin. With silica for smoothing and softening, and sulfur recommended for addressing issues like acne, eczema, and psoriasis, the onsen becomes a therapeutic solution. Additionally, the water vapor aids in detoxifying and moisturizing the skin, imparting a healthy and radiant glow.

Increase metabolism 

While you may not move much while relaxing in an onsen, the hot water is considered a high-energy consumption activity that accelerates metabolism and burns calories. A 20-minute onsen bath at 42 degrees Celsius, for instance, has been shown to burn over 220 kilocalories. Moreover, the relaxation induced by onsen bathing reduces stress levels, promoting a more balanced metabolism, and the minerals in the onsen water, like sulfur, may positively influence metabolic functions.

Improve sleep quality

An onsen provides the perfect sanctuary for relaxation and stress relief. Bathing in its soothing waters before bedtime not only eases tension but also ensures warmth throughout the night, echoing traditional Japanese practices. With water temperatures between 37 to 40 degrees Celsius stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, one experiences a slower heart and breathing rate, fostering deeper sleep, improved circulation, and enhanced metabolism for optimal recovery.

Onsen Etiquette

Kotobuki Onsen. Photo from Rusutsu Resort

Just like visiting any other country, it’s important to respect certain traditions that they hold close to their hearts. Using an onsen comes with some rules;

  • Wash your body before entering 
    • Having dirt on you or any residual body fluids is not allowed
  • Yes..you have to be nude
    • The burning question on everyone’s mind. Although there are some (rare) instances where onsens allow bathing suits
  • Leave your phones in the locker room!
    • Definitely not allowed to take pictures or videos while you’re inside an onsen
  • Inside voices
    • Onsens are regularly used to destress and relax so be mindful when speaking to your companions.

Generally, it is advisable to do your research before visiting an onsen because sometimes these rules can vary!

Onsen Properties in Niseko

Luckily for you, if you prefer to enjoy an onsen in privacy or with not too many people around, The Luxe Nomad has some notable properties with private onsens;

Niseko Kyo

With only 22 units, all of them (except for the studios) have their own private onsens in each room! Enjoy all the benefits of an onsen in your own time and in the privacy of your own room. This property is also ski-in/ski-out and has an in-house restaurant! 

Tsubasa Chalet

This ultra-luxurious chalet in Niseko offers an extra piece of luxury with not one, but two private onsens. One indoor and one outdoor. This property designed by Riccardo Tossani can fit a total of 10 people, enough room for the entire family!

The Vale Niseko

This 5-star hotel features a designer onsen, heated pool, and sauna! If this isn’t your ultimate choice for a relaxing holiday, then you’re missing out. To top it off, this property is perfectly located close to shops, restaurants, and mostly importantly – the slopes.

The Luxe Nomad

Like you, we love to travel but we think that staying at beautiful places shouldn’t come with a hefty price tag. That’s why we’ve gone out there and snagged the best design and luxury hotels and resorts in the Asia Pacific region at rates you won’t believe. WanderLuxe is our little corner of the world where we share our inspirations and thoughts about travel!

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