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Onsen in Hirayu

In this area is located the highest number of onsen in all Japan (in this case made of sulphureous water). The area surrounding Takayama is called Hirayu (Okuhida). Almost all the onsen are reachable via bus, Nohibus. Heading towards Shinhotaka ropeway. If you are traveling by car all the facilities are accessible. Usually, it takes less than a couple of hours to get there, depending on the season and on the road conditions. The hot springs can be mixed or separate. Tattoos are usually allowed.

Hirayu Onsen

What is an onsen?

The Japanese thermal baths are called “onsen”. They are outdoor spaces (rotenburo), as in Italy. Just think for example the Terme of Saturnia (Italy), Challis Hot Springs (Idaho) or The Blue Lagoon (Iceland). The spring water runs in a natural or artificial water basin made of stone, wood or concrete. The type changes according to the place. The hot springs' natural ingredients may vary. You may bath in sulphureous waters like the romans, naturally effervescent, ferrous waters, chlorate with salts, calcium, magnesium, aluminum, sodium bicarbonate, slightly corrosive (not therefore suitable for sensitive skins or children), mildly radioactive for some rheumatism...hence of all kind. Usually, it is typical to find separate onsen for Ladies and Gentlemen, or mixed or even private. Here the custom is, like the old days, to enjoy the bath naked. In case of mixed tubs, though, in many places it is obviously required to wear swimwear. Mandatory is the complete and thoughtful cleansing of the body before entering any onsen, while in case of rural areas is anyway expected a thoughtful wash with simple thermal water outside the tub, being careful of not letting that water go inside the pool. Why is that you may ask? Because for the Japanese people water is a way of purification and all the necessary must be made in order not to contaminate it before and during the bath. Depending on the place, there are also some onsen in which tattoos of course are not allowed. Sometimes, if the onsen is not part of the hotel or ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel), a really cheap payment is expected as a donation, just to guarantee the adequate cleaning state of the facility. Finally, in case of facilities such as hotels or similar, the price often may vary and in some cases can be a bit expensive but with the high price extra services are also included. You have hot springs for all tastes in Japan, and all of them are a truly relaxing experience!

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