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Japanese Onsen

 

 
In most onsen you are supposed to bathe naked. There are separate baths for men and women, so you will only have to be naked in front of people of the same sex. In the rare case where there are communal baths, people wear bathing suits.
 
 
 
You have to take off your shoes before entering the onsen complex. Usually there will be lockers for shoes at the entrance. After paying an entrance fee you enter the gender separate area where there will be lockers for you clothing.
 
 
Most modern onsen complexes have ticket machines where you can purchase the entrance ticket and, if you like, a towel, a hairbrush, etc.
 
 
 
Upon entering the bathing facilities, first scrub and clean your whole body carefully. Rinse all soap throughly before entering the hot baths. Most onsen will provide soap, shampoo and conditioner for free. Of course you can also bring your own if you prefer.
 
 
 
Most people use a small rectangular towel in the onsen. The Japanese call it a ‘face towel‘. It is used to scrub your body down when washing up before entering the onsen. While bathing, this towel is either wrapped around the head, placed on top of the head or put on the edge of the bath. It is considered unsanitary to douse the towel in the bath water. You can also use it to slightly cover up your body when walking around or to remove water droplets from your body before returning to the changing room. Face towels are sold at almost all onsen facilities for a mere 200 or 300 yen.
 
For more impressions of daily life in Japan visit "The Japans"

 

The Japanese Breakfast

Traditional Japanese breakfast from a breakfast buffet at a youth hostel. 

 

Japanese breakfast in a hotel. From left to right: pickled vegetables, cup of tea, daikon and tofu boiled in broth (oden), bowl with various vegetables, bowl of rice porridge (okayu) with a pickled plum (umeboshi) on top, fried eggs, glass of water, miso soup.

 

Due to Western influences, bread and meat may also appear in a modern Japanese breakfast.From left to right: cup of green tea, delicious home-made bread, miso soup, yoghurt with raisins, a plate with vegetables, bacon and fried egg.

 

The Japanese breakfast experience can be quite a hurdle for Westerners. We are not used to eating fish, rice or soup for breakfast. Most of those items are considered dinner foods in Western cultures. While some gaijin seem to have trouble suppressing their gag reflex while just looking at a Japanese breakfast, personally I am a big fan. The hearty Japanese breakfast provides energy all through morning, without getting the 10 a.m. faintness I usually experience after a Western breakfast. And I love the taste of the salty rice porridge.

But even a fan like me has her limits. I had a bit of trouble downing this breakfast provided to me in a traditional ryokan:

Elaborate Japanese breakfast at a ryokan

 

I had some trouble with the fish especially

 

The fact that the breakfast was served at 7 a.m. didn’t help. I was even more surprised that the gentleman at the table next to us felt the need to combine this healthy, early morning breakfast with a large beer.

A Japanese man enjoying a beer for breakfast. Notice the 1 liter (!) bottle on his table.

 

In fact, it seems quite normal to have alcohol at breakfast in Japanese hotels. Look at this menu we found on our breakfast table at a hotel in Nagano:

A menu advertising beer or sparkling wine for breakfast. Don’t even get me started on the Engrish, that’s for another blog post.

 

Content courtesy of The Japans