Onsen and Japanese spa (they call it supa) are my favorite places for relaxation and my favorite type of public bath. What I like most is that there is plenty of hot water! I've tried several traditional baths such as Russian baths and Finnish sauna, but I can't say that I liked those experiences. Japanese onsen fits me perfectly as it has private places for washing and big common baths which are as big as pools. I loved onsen since the very first time I visited one with my Japanese friend.
Onsen can be found all over Japan, including special onsen towns such as Yudanaka, Zao, Kinosaki, Kusatsu, Gero, Atami, and hundreds of others! These towns usually contain public baths and Japanese style hotels called ryokan which also feature hot spring baths. Those small towns usually have wonderful natural surroundings, so visitors can enjoy beautiful views along with a relaxing experience for their bodies. The great number of onsen indicates how significant and beloved this type of vacation is in Japan. When staying in a ryokan I enjoyed the traditional wooden buildings, the Japanese style rooms with tatami floors, and sleeping on a futon and having a big traditional dinner after taking a bath. It was one of my very best experiences in Japan!
These onsens and spas can be found not only in onsen towns but in cities as well. For instance, in Tokyo tourists can try Saya-no-Yudokoro or LaQua Spa, or Oedo Onsen Monogatari, though spas in Tokyo are more expensive than in Nagano or Sendai. During my travels, I try to find hotels with public baths, such as the B Tokyo Suidobashi – to soak in a hot bath after a day spent on my feet is the greatest pleasure and relaxation, but it’s better to take a bath before dinner! My favorites are outdoor baths that are not as hot as indoor ones. In some baths, there is a built-in hydro massage for your feet, back, and other parts of the body. In spacious onsen, there are beds for relaxing between baths as breaks are recommended. Onsens and public baths are free for guests staying in a ryokan or hotel, while some spa admissions cost over 2000 yen – but they're definitely worth that!
Of course, it’s better to try onsen for yourself rather than read about it!