Onsens are Japanese mineral hot springs. They are very popular here.
Until now we haven't been to so many. Cassandra was uncomfortable because you will be completely naked in the bath. But on a trip to Hinoemata in spring Cassandra was forced to partake and discovered she loved it. We have been eagerly awaiting cooler weather so we can start going.
The cooler weather has arrived and we have been visiting them obsessively.
There are two main kinds of trips to an onsen. The first kind is an overnight stay at a hotel or Ryokan (I'll write about those another time). The other kind is a day visit (1/2 an hour to an hour for us).
At the entrance you take off your shoes. Then you pay your money, 500-1000 yen for a day visit (5 to 10 dollars). Then you split up and go to the men's or women's section (there are mixed ones which we haven't visited yet). You strip off, thoroughly wash yourself and then dip into the hot spring. Quite often there are several baths of varying sizes. Sometimes there are different temperature baths or bubbling pools too.
After the onsen its normal not to wash again so you can keep the healthy minerals on your body. The whole thing is very relaxing and great after a walk or when you are sore from exercise.