Imagine yourself butt naked. Then, imagine yourself butt naked surrounded by other random strangers that are also butt naked. Wait, keep that image in mind. Now, imagine yourself butt naked surrounded by other butt naked strangers and you’re all flushed and hot from the steamy onsen you’re all soaking in.
No, I am not describing a scene from an 18+ movie. I was describing my first experience in a Japanese onsen at Osaka.
I’ve seen it in animes and I’ve read about it in books, but experiencing it in person was completely different. We initially wanted to visit Nara, but it was a grey and cold day in Osaka so we decided to warm up at an onsen instead!
Today I will share with you my first experience at an onsen at Osaka, including information on what to expect and prepare, how to use a Japanese public bath or onsen, and other related tips.
Ready? Dive in!
- Photography is not allowed in the onsen and spa area, so all photos inside the onsen and spa area are sourced from the Spa World website
- This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are 100% my own
- Provided: bath and hand towels, bath robe, shoe and small lockers, shampoos and soap, toiletries such as face lotion and cotton buds
- Not provided: bathing suits for the swimming pool, free meals.
YOU WILL NEED:
- ¥100 coins
- bathing suit (if you wish to use the swimming pool)
- hair bands
- a bottle of water
Upon a last minute search, we found Spa World Osaka. Like the name suggests, it’s a huge establishment that includes a hotel, a gym, a pool, two floors of onsens of different themes (more on that below), public baths and many restaurants within the building.
Address: 3-chōme-4- 2 4 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka, 556-0002
Nearest station: Shin-Imamiya-Ekimae
When you arrive at Spa World, the first thing you need to do is purchase a ticket from one of the ticket machines next to the entrance. The only tickets available are 1-Day Passes that cover both the spa area (onsen and public baths) and the swimming pool. I would recommend it anyway because you can just chill for the day in the spa.
There is also the option for you to stay overnight at the spa. In that case, a separate fee will be charged on top of your 1-Day pass.
*Note: the 1-Day pass does not cover other services such as food, massages and the hot stone spa.
Cost (per person): Adults (¥1,200), Children below the ages of 12 (¥1,000)
Additional overnight fee + bath tax: ¥1450 (¥1,300 + ¥150)
After you’ve collected your day pass at the machine, head on over to the registration counters. You will be given a wristband with a unique series of numbers on it and this works as an ‘access key’ to the facilities, which you will have to return for check out later. You will also use this key when you need to pay for food and drinks in the establishment. The numbers on this wristband does not indicate your locker number (more on this below). The lady at the counter also gave us clear instructions on the facilities available and how to use them. In case you were wondering, she spoke communicated well in English.
Right after passing the registration counter, you will arrive at the shoe lockers. This is where the ¥100 coins will come in handy. Each locker requires you to put in one ¥100 coin in order to lock it. If you don’t have any coins on you, there is a coin exchange machine right by the entrance to the locker.
For those of you who will be carrying luggages, don’t worry. There is a luggage storage facility right beside the entrance to the shoe lockers. This is not covered in your 1-Day pass and will incur extra charges.
THE SPAS AND ONSENS
Since we will all be in our birthday suits, the onsens are separated into two sections — one for men and one for women. This ensures privacy and reassurance, especially if you’re a bit shy about showing your naked bits like me.
At Spa World, the onsens are also categorised into two themes: the Asian-themed onsens for women and European-themed onsens for men. I was quite bummed about this because when I looked at the pictures of the onsens on their website, I was most attracted to the Asian-themed onsens but it didn’t matter because I ended up enjoying the European onsens.
ENTERING THE ONSEN
Upon entering the women’s section on the 4th floor, I arrived at the locker room. Keeping my eyes averted from the naked bodies, I went to a locker away from the entrance and stored my affairs. This locker also works like the shoe lockers so be sure to have your ¥100 at hand. When you’ve locked your locker, take the locker key with you and wear the wristband that is attached to the key.
There are also hand and bath towels somewhere in the locker room if you need any.
Photography is strictly not allowed beyond this point for obvious reasons. If you’re curious to see what the onsens look like, take a look at the Spa World website.
HOW WAS MY FIRST JAPANESE ONSEN EXPERIENCE?
Really good. In fact, better than I expected and I ended up staying for the entire half of the day.
At the beginning when I entered the onsen area, I covered myself with a skimpy bath towel. However, I soon started to feel awkward considering that everyone else was fully naked and they were all staring at this weird girl who is covered. They must think to themselves, “She must be a peeping pervert.” Needless to say, I quickly got comfortable being in the same state that my mother saw me for the first time and I let the hot steam carry my stress away.
My favourite were the ‘Finland’ and ‘Spain’ sections. The former had little private hot tubs you can soak in and the latter was outdoors with a nice waterfall. There are also eateries, massage areas and bathing areas in the onsen and spa.
I also love the fact that guests did not need to prepare anything! Bath and hand towels, shampoos and soaps, and even basic toiletries such as lotion and face cream are provided. You can find these at the bathing area and vanity area.
EATERIES AND OTHER FACILITIES
There are restaurants and dessert stands on the 3rd floor at Spa World, together with the hot stone sauna facility. As expected, the food at the restaurants at Spa World was a bit pricier than outside but still affordable. For reference, we paid about ¥2000 for lunch when normally we pay about ¥1000 for both of us (click here to find out how we ate affordably and well in Japan).
At the very top floor, there is a swimming pool and gym. If you feel like the naked onsen is not your scene, you can bring your bathing suits and take a swim at Spa World as well.
For those of you with younger children, there is a Kids’ Zone at the same floor as the women’s onsens and I saw a lot of excited children running around in sauna robes. So this is actually a fun family activity that you can do together as a family!
HOW TO USE A JAPANESE ONSEN/ PUBLIC BATH
For more information on the proper etiquette on how to use a Japanese onsen and/or public bath, I’ve created this visual guide below. Bonus: it’s pinnable to Pinterest!
So there you go! My very first experience at a Japanese onsen and public bath. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed the experience, and if you did, make sure you share and even let me know what you think! Until the next adventure!