3 Questions About “Onsen-Ryokan” | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

3 Questions About “Onsen-Ryokan”

By Guidable Writers Apr 25, 2017

There are so many things which emphasize Japanese culture and customs. 

Clearly, “Onsen-Ryokan” is one of them.  If you are living in Japan for a while, you may have a chance to go to “Onsen-Ryokan” to experience Japanese style accommodation.

There should be so many differences between Japanese customs and yours. At an “Onsen-Ryokan,” you can experience lots of Japanese cultures and customs so that it would be the best place you can take your family and your friends to.

If you are at an “Onsen-Ryokan,” you will probably have questions like below.

・Why Japanese take off their shoes at the entrance?

・Why they serve Japanese tea and sweets in your room at “Ryokan?”

・Why Japanese put towels on top of the head in the bath at “Onsen?”



Why Japanese take off their shoes at the entrance?

Probably, this may be first question you come across on your first visit to Japan.  For this question, Japanese climate is strongly connected to the custom.

It is very humid in Japan and people had houses with higher floor.  If we have space between the ground and the floor, air goes under the house to avoid the humidity. 

Moreover, Japanese have “Tatami” in the room.  If you walk into the room with shoes, “Tatami” gets really dirty. 

Furthermore, Japanese sit on “Tatami” and put “Futon” on “Tatami” to sleep.  Japanese like to relax without shoes on “Tatami” while we are in the house.


Why they serve Japanese tea and sweets in your room at “Ryokan?”

It is clear that they like you to try the sweets they sell at the shop for the promotion.  However, there is a rational reason for that custom. 

If you soak in “Onsen” for ten minutes, it is equivalent to the ten minutes walking.  You probably, go for “Onsen” before dinner with an empty stomach.  Therefore, you may faint at “Onsen,” if you do not recognize how much calories and energy you are consuming by soaking in “Onsen.”

Please give an advice to your friends and family to have tea and sweets before they go into “Onsen.”



Why Japanese put towels on top of the head in the bath at “Onsen?”

Even Japanese would be surprised at the practical meaning of it. The reason for the question is to keep away from “Nobose.”  It is a dizziness from rush of the blood to the head caused by soaking in “Onsen” for a long time.

However, if you put a towel soaked with cold water and put it on your head, it prevents you from “Nobose.”  This information is not so well-known to Japanese ourselves so you can proudly explain the reason for this particular custom.

There is one thing you like to remember, if you go to “Onsen” during winter time, you like to put towel soaked with warm water instead of cold water in the out-side bath = “Roten-buro.”

Importantly, you are not supposed to soak your towels in the bath, but at the shower.


Many of people I know from other countries LOVE “Onsen.”  If it you stay at “Onsen-Ryokan,” it is killing two or more birds in one stone.  The reason is that “Onsen-Ryokan” has a concentrated Japanese culture and customs. 

Examples for what you can see and experience Japanese culture and customs at “Onsen-Ryokan”;

・Japanese food

・Japanese garden and “Ikebana” which is Japanese style flower arrangement

・“Kimono” or “Yukata”

・“Omotenashi” which Japanese way of serving guests

・“Onsen,” “Tatami” and “Futon”

If you are thinking about inviting your friends and family over to Japan, “Onsen-Ryokan” will be the best place you can take them to.