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Japanese Hot Springs Health Benefits And Risks; The Informative Onsen Guide

Japanese hot springs health benefit and risktravel tips
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As a Japanese lifestyle, daily bathing and hot springs are essential, and also it is time to relax and ponder.

It is not only daily routine, but They also love soaking Hot tubs for the positive effects on their health.

Not only the Japanese, but Europeans have also believed in the healing power of hot springs, and have used for thousands of years as a natural treatment.

That’s because there are several therapeutic benefits of the hot spring such ae stimulating nerve systems.

Have you ever heard “balneology” “balneotherapy”???

Which is the study of therapeutic bathing and medicinal springs, so many scientists from Japan and European countries have long been studying how hot springs bring health benefits.

For relax and health, the Japanese have been enjoying soaking in the hot springs every their vacations,

Although Japanese people who live outside of Onsen water supply use “Bath salts” to produce the same effect as Onsen water.

Health Benefits

Natural hot spring water contains various minerals that help to increase blood circulation, relax tensioned muscles, heal and improve skin conditions.

It is because various minerals and other elements penetrate the body and promote hormone secretion.

  • Boost blood circulation
  • Reduce stress
  • Detoxify
  • Improve skin condition

The Thermal Effect

the thermal effect, joint pain

By Boosting blood circulation from the thermal effect of the hot spring, the blood vessels expand and help to relieve muscle and joint pain.

It is also said to exert effects on the heart and blood vessels, such as lowering blood pressure.

Reduce Stress

thermal effect, hot springs, spa

Due to buoyancy works when soaking in the hot spring, you feel the body floating and expect a relaxing effect and relieving muscle tension.

In particular, 37 to 40 Celsius (98.6 – 104 F) hot water stimulates the parasympathetic nerve, which helps toslow your heart rate and expected to relax.

On the other hand, hot water over 42 Celsius (107F) hot water stimulates the sympathetic nerves and brings a refreshing feelingafter bathing.

Also, relaxing, feeling stress released, you can get a good sleep.


detox, skin care,spa

When the body warms by taking a hot spring, it boosts blood circulation and increases metabolism which works the discharge of toxic substances from the body leads to recovery from fatigue.

Another reason for the hot spring detoxifying effect, many natural hot springs in Japan contain “magnesium,” which is absorbed via the surface of the skin and stimulate more enzyme activities in the cells.

Treat And Improve The Skin Condition

skin care, beauty skin, spa, hot spring

To use hot spring benefits as medical treatment, much research has been undergoing.

Alkaline hot springs are expected to melt sebum and softens the stratum corneum, also has a cleansing effect so the skin becomes smooth and the skin is beautiful so they are popular among women for skin beauty.

Alkaline hot springs water is like a thick and slimy touch. Especially in a strong alkaline hot spring, it can remove too much oil from your skin. After bathing, rinse well and supply moisture lotions after bathing.

Also, do not scrub your skin too much with a towel.

On the other hand, acidic hot springs have bactericidal and antibacterial effects, which is good for skin irritations and infections such as rashes and eczema.

It has also a natural peeling effect for softens and dissolves old calluses on the surface of the skin.

After bathing, your skin will be smooth, but it may be too effective for people with sensitive skin, so rinse well with warm water after bathing.

Negative Effects

Health-friendly hot springs can lead to life-threatening accidents if you don’t consider the health condition enough.

Here are safety tips to take a hot spring.

Health Condition

The Efficacy of natural hot spring is well-known as a positive effect on health, but if you are not in the best condition, it may work negatively.

If you have any of the following symptoms, refrain from using hot springs until you are completely cured.


  • Fever
  • Severe high blood pressure
  • Severe heart disease or kidney disease
  • Severe diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Early and late pregnancy, nursing, predisposition to bleeding, menstruation
  • Sensitive skin or severe skin conditions
  • Over 50 and have abnormal or anxious blood pressure or heart.
  • Elderly people and those with dry skin, avoid bathing in sulfur springs or hydrogen sulfide springs

*sulfur springs generally smell like rotten eggs and the color is emerald green or milky white. Famous sulfur springs in Japan are Takayu Onsen, Manza Onsen, Tsukioka Onsen. (Wikipedia).

Before And After Eating

restaurant, avoid after and before eating to take a bath

When you are tired or hungry, your body has lower blood sugar than normal conditions.

Bathing in hot springs is consumed energy more than expected, it can cause hypoglycemia.

Eat something light in advance.

Also, you should avoid soaking in the hot tub right after eating because boosting blood circulation in the body bothers gastrointestinal blood circulation, and stops gastric juice secretion and gastrointestinal motility.

It is the same reason you should wait for hot springs after you drink alcoholic beverages.

Wait for 30 minutes to 1 hour after meals. 

“Ka Ke Yu” is important


“Ka ke yu”(かけ湯) is splashing hot water with a tiny bucket before soaking hot spring.

I talk about it as a good manner (as cleaning your body) on this page,  but also it is an important tip to adjust the body to the temperature of hot spring.

Blood pressure rises by 30 to 50 (mm Hg) in about 2 minutes immediately after getting naked and soaking in hot water. Older people, hypertension, and diabetics are at risk of a cerebral hemorrhage.

After clean your body, scoop the hot water with a tiny bucket and splash yourself with few times.

Half  Bath

Step in the bathtub slowly, and enjoy taking a half-body bath for the first few minutes.

If you take a full bath particularly in hot water without getting ready (and Japanese hot springs are quite a high temperature), heat stimulation will be overwhelmed due to the water pressure on the blood vessels and lungs of the whole body causes sudden overpressure on the heart.

women, floating position, onsen, hot springs

At the beginning of bathing, sit on the steps of the bathtub and take a half bath for 2-3 minutes.

After getting used to the temperature, slide your hips, and let your body float in the hot tub. 

If you lean your head on the edges as a pillow and extend your limbs, your body will float and approach the surface of the water.

This floating posture is good for releasing from water pressure and you can be relaxed more than soaking in the bathtub the whole body vertically.

Avoid Soaking In The Bathtub For Long


take a rest

Repeat getting in and out the tub, rather than soaking for a long.

Soaking in the bathtub for long can cause fatigue and accidents.

If you are a beginner for the hot spring, enjoy soaking in the bathtub for 5 – 10 minutes in the first couple of time then take a bath for up to 30 minutes after you get used to.

If the water temperature is high like around 104F (40℃), soak in the tub up to 10 min.

Putting A Cold Towel On The Head



Put a cold towel on the head to prevent “hot flush”.

You will be provided a long thin cotton towel or regular towel from the Ryokan, put it on your head while you are soaking in the tub.

If you visit public “Onsen” facilities, anyway, bring a towel with you.

But it is not allowed to soak the towel into the bathtub.

Go “Onsen” outside after enjoying one inside


open air onsen


It is better to enjoy an open-air hot spring after bathing in one inside building because if you suddenly go outside especially in the winter season, it might cause the blood pressure to rise rapidly.

Warm your body first and take an open-air bath.

Do Not Rinse The Body (!)

Hot spring minerals become a positive barrier for your skin, do not rinse well after bathing.

(!) However, if you have sensitive skin or the hot spring is the strong sulfur spring, better rinse well.

Choose Right Hot Springs For Skin

grand-prismatics-bacterial-color-, chose the right hot springs for your ski

Like I say in Treat and Improve Skin Condition”,

In Japanese hot springs, the “Ph” measurement display is mandatory to show acidity and alkalinity,  you should know the type of hot springs especially you have sensitive skin.

10 different types of onsen

Take Rest

Take enough rest after hot springs.

Drink plenty of water.

Do not do a workout or play active sports right after bathing.

During the workout, the bloodstream concentrates on the muscles that are moving and supply oxygen, which helps to expel lactic acid, a fatigue substance, quickly.

If you workout right after taking a bath, the bloodstream will be dispersed throughout your body, and the metabolism of the exercising muscle will be insufficient.

It means your heart will overpressure and have an unexpected risk.


I talk about health benefits and risks when taking hot springs in Japan.

Hot springs in Japan are mostly natural hot springs, with several minerals which brings you many benefits.

However, it can work negatively when you take a bath under sick conditions.

I am not a specialist in “Onsen” health, please check out information about hot springs in Ryokan or spas by yourself. 

If you are not sure you can take a hot spring bath, better ask your doctor.

Do you know you can enjoy Japanese Onsen at home with the same health benefits?

Check out Japanese Bath salt products here!

best Japanese bath salt you should buy



Japanese hot springs health benefit and risk

Japanese Hot Springs

In Japan, there are Japanese unique but complex hot springs etiquettes and manners you need to learn.

It’s a great experience to stay in Ryokan hotels to enjoy Onsen and Japanese traditional life at once. But you need to know the concept of staying Ryokan hotels to avoid controversy between different cultures.

Do you want to learn other Japanese unique culture and etiquettes?



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