(Photo from daylife.com)
In February, it can get pretty cold in the northern parts of Japan, with snow up to 2 m (6-7 ft) in many rural villages in the mountains. That's when we like to go to the hotsprings, and enjoy the mineral waters heated naturally from the volcanic depths - with sulphur, sodium chloride, iron, and most other elements from the periodic table. The ultimate eco-travel experience. Even monkeys have caught onto the fad in Nagano prefecture, at the Jigokudani Monkey Park (videos after the fold).
(Video by nature videographer DaniÃ«lla Sibbing, Squiver Photo Tours)
I wish I could post more photos but I'm sure you get the general idea. In Japan, the concept of bathing together is of course a consequence of the climate and the natural occurence of these terrific bath houses. Most are segregated today, but many hotels in the mountains have private baths for you and your family. In Japan, it is called "naked communion" (è£¸ã®ä»˜ãåˆã„, hadaka no tsukiai) and what's wrong with that.
(Photo from Japanese bath guide)
I grew up bathing naked in the lakes in Sweden in the summer, and the nudist in me likes the Japanese bath etiquette:
Step 1: if the hotel provides a robe, slippers and two towels [big and very small] in your room, wear the robe, bring the towels and wear the slippers up to the onsen entrance.
Step 2: Find a locker or basket, put everything in it except the little towel and if it's lockable, lock it.
Step 3: Enter the steamy bath area with only the small towel which is partly used to protect your modesty if shy, and/or to wash more thoroughly with.
Step 4: When totally rinsed and clean, enter one of the baths.
Here, Nigel Abbott shows us the etiquette when visiting a hotspring in Japan. Yukuro Onsen is the most popular in Niseko, Hokkaido and is a great way to relax the body after a hard days boarding or skiing. Geothermal power is here to stay.
(Photo: JTB Access Japan)
Written by Martin Frid at greenz.jp