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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Making a visit to Japan: Gay men's perspectives


This blog entry was created in response to the posting (just below) on a gay message board. I often get inspired to write a long article once I've taken on the task of responding to someone's request for information (Photo: In Wolverine's latest X-men movie, there are many scenes of a hot springs bath in Japan.)

13 Jan 2015, 06:44   I am planning a trip to Japan for 8 days. Thinking about  getting the  unlimited rail ticket to see more than just Tokyo. Has anyone  done it  before, or do you have some suggestions?
     
 
 13 Jan 2015, 15:13  The Japan Rail pass is an excellent value.  There are so many places worth seeing. At this time of year  (winter), the hot springs are great value.
 There are lots to choose from, but if you like an outdoor bath surrounded by  snow,  head north from Tokyo to the Tohoku area. I once went to a hot  spring  with a geyser just a couple of meters from the outdoor bath and  snow all  around. I think it was in Miyagi prefecture, but I can't  remember the  name of it right now.  If you hate the cold, head to Kyushu: Nagasaki and Kagoshima and Kunisaki peninsula. For culture and history, check out Kyoto and Nara, only a fairly short train ride apart, and not so far from Osaka and Kobe.
 
 A lot of the Japanese hot springs are in hotels, so  they're for the  hotel guests, but they often have day visitor rates for people not staying at the hotel who just want to use the hot springs.  Of course, there are some baths run by local  city or town  administrations. These don't usually have much of a rest  area, just a  space for changing.

 But there's a big variety in style and cost, so  look around. Ask a  information offices (at railway stations etc). Last  time I was in Japan back in autumn, there were a lot of flyers offering  inexpensive packages at  hot spring hotels. It's worth checking each  place out a bit before  committing yourself.
   I just tried searching for "japan hot spring guide" on amazon.com, and it looks as though they have some useful options.
     
23 Jan 2015, 10:01
    If you visit Nikko (Toshogun Shrine, Chuzenji Lake and falls), or  Hakone, a lake near the foot of Mt. Fuji,  both of which are just a  couple of hours by train from Tokyo, you can still have time to squeeze  in a quick visit to a hot springs.   Some of the onsen resorts  nationwide  have outdoor hot spring baths, called 'rotenburo,' which  gives you the thrill of being naked outside, relaxing in the hot water,  and getting to see nude Japanese men (most often draping the ubiquitous  long hand towel in front).

Actually, a few public baths still  operate in major cities (and smaller towns) where you can can get nearly  the same experience for under $5.  Take your own towel, and toiletries.  


 
Japanese love bathing in groups so much  that many hotels in urban areas have 'ofuro' which they call 'onsen'  (hot mineral springs) - although the water is usually piped in or the  minerals are added on
site.

   You can get the feel of what a traditional hot springs bath is like  without having to go so far afield. In a few cases, there are 'onsen' in  urban areas, and also at ski resorts or recreation areas where you  might be going to visit anyway.


Actually, a few public baths still  operate in major cities (and smaller towns) where you can can get nearly  the same experience for under $5.  Take your own towel, and toiletries.  


Finally, if you're interested in having or seeing gay sex. You  might consider visiting one of the all-male saunas in either Tokyo or  Osaka (there may be some in smaller cities as well). In Tokyo, 24-Kaikan  is the most famous, and the one is Shinjuku 3 (san)-chome is clean and  active. It's also a hotel so you could even stay the night  - although  there are shared bunk bed rooms which your $24 locker (12 hour stay)  will allow you to rest. There is a large Japanese style bath in most all  the sauna, but also showers stalls with glory holes.  The largest one  in Osaka is called Hokuokan, and could be said to be bigger than Tokyo's 24 Kaikan gay bathhouse.

  I have written about the baths, saunas, onsen (hot springs), and  collected what others have said here before (because it disappears) on  one of my blogs. You can find links to those two gay saunas mentioned,  and more detailed information by going to blog:
 http://sunbuns.blogspot.com  

To find that entry and others about Japan in my blog, type 'key words'  in the top left-hand search box, such as, Tokyo, Japan, sauna, onsen,  etc   .
There are actually several different entries.  One explains about the gay scene in Tokyo.

The  photo here isn't mine, but represents how Japanese men, especially young and  frisky ones, like to play around in the onsen spa resorts. You can  often find groups of friends, college students, or company employees in  the onsen; they make the trip to build up group cohesion and camaraderie  - which can be a highly homoerotic situation (at least from a gay's man  perspective).

Enjoy your visit...

Kelly


 

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