Dan and I used to go to the onsen quite frequently when we lived in the Japanese countryside. An onsen is the name of a Japanese hot spring bath, and it is a popular way to unwind and relax. It is a communal bathing experience, so only for those who feel comfortable with this.
There is something unusually relaxing about the experience. The water is hot, spring water, with a range a different qualities based on the hot spring. We used to prefer heading to more gentle alkaline waters, although the acidic hot springs are pretty popular in Japan as the acidity really gets your blood pumping!
Since arriving in Tokyo, almost one year ago (where did that time go?!) we haven’t ventured to a city onsen. The experience lost its appeal to me after we saw how busy this city really was! It made me nervous that then onsen would be packed. I don’t mind relaxing together, but I’d rather not be bumping naked knees with strangers. So it came as a surprise to me that Dan came up with the idea of visiting a local onsen at the end of July, as a chance to relax and unwind after a stressful few weeks…
We visited a very local onsen in the area of Koenji. It’s just a train stop up from ours and is a very fashionable area, with vintage shopping, tattoo parlours, trendy people, and a nice relaxing onsen as it happens! It was pretty busy but had a distinctly casual vibe too. The only real challenge I faced was finding the water in each bath a little too hot to fully enjoy! Still, we combined the evening with eating in a Vietnamese restaurant we had recently stumbled across so all in all, it was a great was to spend an evening in the city!