* Originally, some of this discussion was posted on a Dudesnude discussion forum in August 2010
Wondering if any of you have had any experience on trying the Japanese Onsen or hot springs?
by occa 10 Aug 2010, 21:52
Guys, wondering if any of you have had any experience on trying the Japanese Onsen or hot water spring? any tips or hints on what should you do in there? i could google it but I wanted to know and hear the first hand experience from all of you who had tried it. I heard that for uncut guys it is a no no if you keep your cock head covered with the foreskin...is it true?. Well, would love to hear from you as I will visit japan next month and might have the chance to try one of the onsen or bath houses. . First time experience for me to be naked around other men. Can't wait.
Follow up: Ernie
10 Aug 2010, 22:23
I lived in Japan for several years and it was a real treat to go to the Onsens/Sento. There's a lot of etiquette to observe but the main one is to wash before you get into any bath - doesn't have to be a thorough wash as you usually have a good scrub/shampoo after you soak anyway...but you never get into a bath without a bit of a 'token' wash. Main thing is NO soap anywhere near a bath. I found the Japanese a little peculiar when it came to foreskin - it's considered infantile to publicly 'display' your foreskin so most men keep them skinned back - I didn't have to worry about that! I had Japanese friends who didn't care either way so don't fret about it. I got so used to seeing knobs on display that a couple of times when other 'foreigners' were bathing, I got quite shocked to see long floppy skins! Hope you enjoy it, it's great getting naked with other men and throwing water everywhere.
Follow up: jax2nola
10 Aug 2010, 22:57
Remember that Japan is still very much a closed society, not terribly tolerant of outsiders. At the mainstream onsens, you might not notice it much. There is a great one at Odaiba, a touristy island in Tokyo Bay, called Oedo Onsen that is made up to look like a Japanese 1800s village with huge indoor and outdoor bathing areas. At the gay baths (24 Kaikan in Tokyo was one we went to), you might feel a little ostracized. Also know that if you have tattoos you might not be welcome at all, as the Japanese associate tattoos with the yakuza or mobsters. Have fun!
Follow up: spunkhole
10 Aug 2010, 23:59
people take a small towel into the communal bathing area with them (leave your big towel outside in the changing area). most guys hold this over their cocks when walking around, though not always so careful to hide everything. a token effort is enough to be polite. this little towel is used to wash yourself and to wipe most of the moisture off before you leave. dry off in the cooler changing area. the baths are usually hotter than westerners are used to, so it takes a while to cool down a bit. the onsen are great (so many to choose from), especially in remote areas and in winter when there's snow on the ground. the same etiquette applies here as in city bathhouses, which are also good for a visit. many now have saunas installed too,which gives a better opportunity for very discreet cruising.
Reply by sunbuns99
What the difference between an onsen, a public bath, and a gay sauna or gay bathhouse?
Let me remind you that there are several types of 'baths' in Japan.
There are 3 main types. The first two are for everyone - either for relaxation or healing as is the case of onsen, or for cleasing of the body, which is what 'sento' (or public bath) is for. The third are saunas (or health spas) while many are straight and just for relaxation or health self-treatment - a lot of these later ones are for sex -- some are for gay men.
-1. onsen 'hot spring' baths . There are both natural ones and man-made ones.
The owners pride themselves on the mineral content and temperature of their natural hot springs - so the man-made ones try to imitate those qualities.
These 'onsen' are normally (and almost always now) divided into male and female dressing rooms and the baths themselves are separate, but until only about 15-20 years ago, it was still possible to find conjugal ones (where men and women got into the same bath - after changing in separate room). I use to go to one like that at Ikuho on Mt. Haruna in Gunma Prefecture. Ikuho is one of the oldest commercially operated hotsprings resorts in Japan.
So you can travel to certain locations that are famous for their 'onsen' or you can sometimes find one in a major hotel or resort (man-made) - even in big cities. For example, there is an 'onsen' in the ritzy chic shopping district of Azabu Juban (not far from Roppogi).
One interesting variation is the 'rotenburo' - or open-air hot springs bath. In some onsen resorts (and even the man-made ones - like Odaiba mentioned above), part of the hot springs bath is in the open air (outdoors) - while usually divided by gender, that is not always the case so you'll need a towel handy to keep covered for modesty in mixed baths.
Noboribetsu in Hokkaido is a famous example, but there are some in most onsen resort locations (such as Hakone, about an hour by express train southeast of Tokyo).
One of my favorites was the free public open-air outdoor hot spring bath right on the beach at Shirahama, Mie (about an hour south of Osaka). It's really fun to be able to sit in warm water right next to the cool ocean water - or to take turns soaking in each. (P.S. I have no idea if it is still operating).
2) 'Sento' are public baths. There used to be one in every neighborhood but as times have changed and indoor plumbing virtually universal in Japan (except some places in the countryside), public bath (or sento) are pretty much few and far between.
Those that are still operating successfully have usually upgraded their facilities and offer onsen-like features like a dry sauna, and open air bathing or have installed mineral baths, which actually piped in artificially-made hot mineral water.
Yet, there are a few of the old-fashioned ma & pa 'sento' still around. In these, you pay when you come into the dressing room, where an older man or woman sits atop a high seat that overlooks both the male and female dressing rooms. Don't worry - he or she has seen it all a million times - meaning your nudity is not going to shock them - albeit you may be shocked to have to undress in front of a withered old woman or man. The 'sento' that do still operate are usually frequented by the old-fashioned types who just enjoy the naked camaraderie (or 'skinship') of a good soak in a large hot tub, but more likely by those who must live in cheap or communal apartments that do still exist even in Tokyo. They are young men (or women) with low paying jobs who probably couldn't finish high school, older day-laborers, or one of the few foreign blue-collar workers who lives cheaply in order to send part of his earnings back to his family in his native country.
I can't tell you how many times I have enjoyed watching one of these young hunky workers peal back his foreskin for a good cleaning or wash his butt hole. Somehow it always seemed that they were just preoccupied with their mundane chore to notice the wide-eyed onlooker sitting opposite them, partly hiding his growing erection behind the low mirrored partition that separated us.
3) The saunas or health spa ('herusu') are the third type. Of these, there are 3 basic types: A. a genuine sauna for straight people; B. a gay bath house; and C. a straight sex club where men can pay for sexual favors - usually a soapy hand job from a female 'attendant'.
I don't know much about the A or C, but I've been to the gay bath houses in Tokyo and Osaka several times. The major ones in Tokyo are the 24 Kaikan (there are several, but the one in Shinjuku is probably the best). I found Hokuokan in Osaka to be even bigger and better, but maybe it only because it was new for me (I rarely get to visit Osaka).
Info about the gay district in Tokyo on my own Travel with Sunbuns (blog)
Popular gay spots in Tokyo:
Info about Tokyo's 24 Kaikan (gay bathhouse):
Info about Hokuokan gay bathhouse / sauna in Osaka:
That's enough info for now.