My favorite past tine in Japan: natural hot springs (onsen). Japan is full of them. I am fortunate to live within 10 minutes of a very beautiful one with with an amazing view looking out upon the mountains. All yeah round, sun, rain, or snow, you can take grab your little white onsen towel and sit out in nature appreciating the surrounding beauty. It’s a tradition that has existed in Japan for many thousands of years, and is even popular among the local monkeys in some areas.
I took a trip down to the beautiful hills of Totsukawa (十津川村) to visit a friend of mine this weekend, and this place is filled to the brim with springs. Most hotsrpings you will visit in Japan are a part of some sort of indoor facility with beautiful woodwork and careful design. Pictured above though, is a natural onsen, maintained by no one but nature herself. Many people in Japan embark on weekend-long road trips to visit such sites. Sitting out in the freezing cold night under the stars with friends in the springs, breathing in the eggy sulfurous air, and enjoying the feeling of being alive.
In areas with natural spring water, there are often foot onsens peppered up and down local roads where travelers can take a break from driving and dip their feet in the water for a few minutes of warmth and refreshment. I love this country.