Japan sets the bar high for various things—from fashion, food, and interior design to the age-old tradition of hot spring or onsen. Soaking in a hot bath is not only a healthy tradition but is already one of the must-try activities for tourists visiting Japan.
Those long, hot baths tie back to the Japanese people’s religions—Shintoism and Buddhism—which consider bathing in hot springs a sacred practice. Although the oldest onsen literature dates back to 720 CE, even in modern times, onsen bathing is special in Japanese culture because of its relaxing effect and concrete health gains.
7 Health Benefits of Relaxing in a Japanese Onsen
Experts have studied hot spring health benefits for years. Their findings? Dipping the body in hot water has numerous benefits because of heat, buoyancy, and hydrostatic pressure. In the same manner, onsen provides the following advantages to your health.
1. Improves blood circulation
Soaking in a hot bath benefits blood circulation through hydrostatic pressure. Hydrostatic pressure explains why you feel lighter underwater. When you dip into the onsen, the water presses against your body with or without bodily movement. The difference in pressure from your body and the bath encourages blood flow in your veins.
Everybody knows that better blood circulation means a healthier pumping heart—the root of good health. Good blood circulation ensures oxygen flows throughout the body, allowing organs to function properly.
2. Increases metabolism
Onsen water that’s at least 38° Celsius (100° Fahrenheit) helps burn calories by stimulating metabolism. The role of onsen in metabolic health is similar to what physical activities, like jogging, offer.
3. Relaxes muscles
Notice how your body feels “lighter” in water? That’s thanks to the water exerting force in an upward direction. This scenario alleviates the pressure exerted by gravity on your body, which loosens up strained and tight muscles for overall relaxation.
As such, sports scientists recommend athletes to submerge themselves in hot water after training for better endurance and performance. They live the mantra, “Train cool, bathe hot.” even if you’re not an athlete, it’s a piece of good advice if you exercise regularly.
4. Helps you sleep better
Everyone who has tried standing under a hot shower or taking a warm bath in a tub knows how relaxing it can be. However, you may reap more benefits when you dip in a hot spring. Its soothing effect calms your nerves and makes you ready for a wind-down. It can even improve your sleep. Think of it as nature’s way of lulling you to sleep with its aquatic embrace.
5. Alleviates joint pains
Do you ever wonder why you must apply heat compression for joint pains? That’s because cold makes blood flow harder, and the heat tries to reverse the effect. A hot compress on tight joints increases blood flow and gives you a “loosening up” feel.
The same principle applies to hot baths. The warm water stimulates blood flow and improves circulation. This helps reduce stiffness in painful joints, thus alleviating your symptoms for the time being. Over time, hot baths can help manage joint pain long-term.
6. Remedies skin conditions
One of the reasons why the Japanese have spotless, porcelain skin is because of their bathing habits. Baths inherently cleanse the skin, but onsen takes skincare to a higher level. Plenty of onsen sites derive from volcanic hot springs, which provide healing effects to the skin.
Trivia: Japan comprises 10% of the world’s volcanoes, having 440 volcanoes in total, with 111 of them active.
Sulfur—the same element that treats skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis—runs in these hot springs. Since sulfur has antifungal, antibacterial, and exfoliating properties, taking an onsen dip can help treat these skin problems and supplement your medical treatment.
7. Puts you in a better mood
Psychologists suggest that taking baths alone releases endorphins because water touches the senses. But reaping health benefits via onsen is more than just that.
Whether it’s the scenic nature view, serene environment without gadgets or other distractions in sight, or social interaction you encounter while dipping in the waters, you will undoubtedly experience mindfulness through onsen bathing.
Bathe for Good Health: One Dip at a Time
Onsen goes beyond a cultural practice in Japan. Even before the dawn of modern medicine, the Japanese already did themselves a huge favor by taking long, hot baths.
Here’s the good news: you don’t need to travel all the way to the land of the rising sun to experience the benefits of onsen. The Seasons Residences, a Japanese-inspired condo in BGC, offers wellness spa amenity reminiscent of Japanese onsen.
Other amenities in The Seasons Residences are inspired by the four seasons of Japan. These include spring and winter gardens, golf simulation rooms, karaoke rooms, swimming pools, and other amenities for modern living!
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