Most all my western friends here in Japan absolutely love onsen (public bathing), and go about once a week, sometimes more. Tricia, Sarah, Ty, Caleb...my friend Hideyuki actually tells people his hobby is onsenning. I’ve been with him many times, we went last night, and I tell ya he is a textbook nudist: the clothes come off and he is happy as can be, dancing around, stretching, relaxing...He especially loves the outdoor baths, as do we all; sunbathing naked, or lying in the rain..it feels great on the body, doesn't it? I think public bathing also feels great on the soul.It can even evoke a kind of spiritual (or universal) awareness, if you ask me. John Ince: “Social nudity helps erode social boundaries. Clothes are powerful visible cues of social division: between the rich and the poor, the trendy and the unfashionable. Nudity is like a uniform, signaling the most inclusive of all forms of membership—our humanity. Yet this primal uniform is at the same time ultimately individualistic, reveling the very essence of our physical idiosyncrasies. Thus the shedding of clothes simultaneously promotes social equality and personal authenticity, a sense of community and a sense of individuality.”
There is that great artist, Spencer Tunic, who makes the news sometimes for his art happenings and photographs. Many of his volunteers say that it was the first time they had been nude in public, and with huge smiles explain how thrilling and liberating it was. Anyway, check him out, and the onsen, if you havn’t.
Ingrid Lezar - I was a bit of an apprehensive beginner, but now I love the onsen. My reflections so far have mostly revolved around ageing. So of course at the onsen you have everyone from babies to the oldest lady in the world whose bones and muscles are so contorted that it's hard to understand how she even moves around every day... and here we all are, enjoying a hot bath. It's like... whatever life throws at you, there will always be giant warm baths, and you can enjoy them no matter what.