Why Japanese are crazy about hot spring?

By Kikki - Last updated: 金曜日, 11月 20, 2009 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

According to the data from “The Actual Situation and Trend of Japanese Tourism in 2005” published by the Japan Tourism Association, onsen bathing is the most common activity for domestic travelers at their destinations. About 51.5% of Japanese tourists enjoy bathing in hot spring. 

Main activities at the Destinations

From the above data, we can imagine how Japanese people love onsen, but why? Someone said that Japanese people live in small houses as such named “rabbit hutches.” Although, Japan has progressed to one of the richest countries in the world, people are still living in relatively smaller houses. Japanese houses are well organized for fitting to their daily life. They like to take a bath every day before going to bed, but their bathroom usually have only limited space. Therefore, we can understand why Japanese travelers prefer to bathe in the grand bath or open air bath at their destinations. But it is only partially correct.

The next graph which is taken from the government statistics shows the average total floor space in Japanese house has become wider. You can realize that total space for average rental house has not been wide enough yet however, compared to that of own house.

Progress of Average Total Floor Space in Japanese House 

 Our living space is really small as referred as “rabbit hutches.” or not? We like to compare living spaces in other major countries.

 Average Total House Floor Space in Major Countries

 Compared to U.K. and France, our living space in own house is rather wider. An expression of “rabbit hutches” is only applied for rental houses in Japan.

May be other reasons have affected this tendency. Probably, one reason is that many varieties of onsen resorts are available in Japan. Fortunately, Japanese islands are located in the volcanic belt and rich in many hot springs. They can easily enjoy bathing in a variety of hot spring resorts nearby. Whenever making a pleasure trip to somewhere, they always concern about the quality of hot spring and bathing facilities.

Mr. Hiroshi Ebisawa, Architect

Mr. Hiroshi Ebisawa, Architect

 Mr. Hiroshi Ebisawa, an architect specialized in onsen design(http://www.e-koubo.co.jp/), wrote in his book titled “ONSEN.” Taking a bath in hot spring water dates back 10,000 years to the Jomon Period. Archaeological findings prove hot spring markings on utensils. Onsen is in the Japanese “blood.”

Prior to the modern medical findings of the benefits of onsen waters, in ancient times it was considered as a “cure all” holy water. Even shrines were built around them. Written history of the onsen inn first appears during the Heian Period (11th century). Buddhist priest Kobo was said to have discovered, the most famous Izu Shuzenji Onsen, when he struck a protruding river rock with his cane.

The Great Teacher, Kobo

The Great Teacher, Kobo

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