The Japanese work pretty hard as a rule, and like most things they do, they take their relaxation very seriously. A really popular way of getting rid of the stresses and worries of life is to soak away in the onsen. Most people know that these volcanic hot springs can be found all over Japan and you have to get into them naked but unless you’ve tried a few, you probably don’t realize the sheer variety available for the onsen enthusiast.
The water from onsen to onsen varies greatly and it is claimed different types of water have different effects and curative properties. There are indoor and outdoor version, some very sculpted, some as natural as can be. The temperature varies greatly – some places are so hot that you can hardly put your foot in, but there will always be a grinning old person happily soaking away where he should be boiling alive. Strong sulphur smells can be common in some places, and you even get some where the water looks muddy. A popular winter attraction is the onsen where the monkeys hang out to keep warm, and if you are looking for really weird, come the launch of the new vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau, there is even a place you can go where red wine is added to your onsen water. Get out there and try as many as you can.