Japanese Bath Etiquette


Japan, a culture wrapped in history, ancient customs and respect. Our Japan tour is not only a cuisine adventure, it is a cultural immersion. From temple visits to soba lessons, lively market tours, a traditional Japanese bath experience and overnights in ryokan, Japan will open your senses. One of our more adventurous highlights is a visit to a traditional onsen. Partaking in a Japanese hot spring bath is a wonderfully luxurious, and culturally important, experience. Bathing is used for cleanliness of course, but perhaps more importantly, as a relaxation for the body. Making sure to follow local customs is important while on site, however, so take special note of this blog before your trip. Though it may seem overwhelming when first approached, proper etiquette ensures that you will fully enjoy this absolutely foreign experience. To bathe traditionally in any culture is to literally immerse yourself in the ways of locals.

Surviving Your First Japanese Bath

MEN/WOMEN: First things first. Women and men bathe separately, and in some cases even enter the bath house through different entrances (but not always). The best way to avoid slipping in the wrong door to some surprised faces is to learn these two Japanese kanji for the men's and women's rooms. These will surely come in handy through as you travel through Japan.

男の湯, otoko no yu (MEN)

女の湯, onna no yu (WOMEN)

CLOTHES OFF: All shyness is best left outside the bath house, as swimsuits are not allowed. Gender specific facilities avoid any very awkward moments, but if you've never bared all it's best to prepare for that.

WASHING: An important step before entering the shared bath is to wash your body. When you enter the gender specific changing areas you'll be provided with a small towel or wash cloth. Before entering the baths, use the washing facilities which will be obvious by their small stools and mirrors. Soap and rinse your whole body.

PRIVACY TOWELS: You'll be provided a small towel for walking from the changing area to the showers and then to the baths. Do not bring your towel into the water, it is considered rude.

TATTOOS: Some bath houses prefer guests not to have tattoos, though this rule is changing. Do make sure to check in with your guide before attending.To book your spots on an upcoming Japanese food tour, contact Access Culinary Trips today.

Learn more about our Japan Culinary Tour and explore Japanese culture through cuisine.