My First Onsen!

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One of the things Japan is famous for are the many natural hot springs (onsen). On my previous Japan stays I didn’t get to try one out, so going to an onsen was on my “to do” list for this trip. Based on our schedules that week, we decided to go to Oedo Onsen Monogatari, which is more like an onsen in an Edo themed amusement park. We went the day after Comiket and Tokyo Zinester Gathering, which was perfect beause we were sore from the convention and running all over the city with heavy boxes of books! We had rested most of the day and headed over there for dinner and a soak in the onsen that evening. When you arrive, you check your shoes, pay admission and get your plastic key bracelet (which they scan for purchases inside – so no wallet needed) then choose one of many yukata designs (everyone must wear yukata).

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In the locker room, you change and head to the main area where there are many restaurant stands, Edo themed decor, and games. It was fun being in that environment with everybody in yukata and the food we chose (some sushi and oden) was good.

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The onsen areas are separate for men and women, so we headed to the women’s locker room. I was a little nervous since I had never went to a public bath before and knew that everybody would be nude at the onsen, but it ended up being no big deal. In fact we weren’t allowed to even bring a towel in from the locker room, just a small washcloth. On entering, there was a large well with buckets where people dumped a few buckets of water over themselves, then we went to an area with individual little stalls where people sit on stools and bathe thoroughly with a supplied bucket, shower head, soap, shampoo, etc. Then once we were all clean we tried the various hot spring pools. They each had different minerals and benefits. One had microbubbles and it felt tingly! We even braved going outside to the outdoor pools, since it was pretty cold and damp, the contrast of the hot springs to the cold air felt really interesting and refeshing. When we were done with the baths we showered, dried off and got back into our yukata.

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We had some tea and Anmitsu (a traditional jelly dessert), and then headed home.

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It was a really fun experience and while touristy (though not crowded at all), I enjoyed the Edo theme.