Japan’s Onsens: Where I Can Find Serenity, Joy, and Comfort

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A Rare Space for Comfort in the Modern World

In a society that is increasingly digital and constantly pressing for my attention, the onsen has become a precious space which encourages me to stay in the moment, socialize, reflect, and relax. In particular, I find three characteristics of the onsen to be especially central in creating a space for ease and comfort, where the rules of the modern world don’t necessarily apply.

  • I feel as though in the United States in particular, the human body has become hyper-sexualized and can be a deep source of shame and guilt for many individuals. While I can’t argue that Japan is free of this sort of judgement, as many parts of Japanese culture have become widely westernized, the onsen still preserves a space where the human body is loved and cared for.
  • While there are some common sense rules like no yelling, there is some other etiquette that go beyond what may be expected in a typical public space. Respect for others and the space takes form in things like making sure to shower and cleanse your body before entering the baths. People with long hair will also be sure to tie it up, so their hair doesn’t up in the bath water, making it unpleasant for others. The rules are a sign of respect and responsibility, and while it’s not heavily reinforced, the comfort of the space is maintained because everyone is considerate of their own behavior.
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Raised in Tokyo; living in the US. I care about helping others learn to live a better, healthier life. My site: www.kakikata.space 🌱

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