There are articles all over the internet on period sex, but what about period onsen? How many Japanese and foreign women have tried it? Are the only reasons to refrain simply social taboos, or are there legitimate medical issues? And if you are taking the plunge, what products will serve you best? After being curious about it for way too long on my own, and after discovering that many other women are asking the same questions, I decided it was about time to plunge in and get some answers.
Attitudes about period onsen in Japan
Like in many countries, the Japanese attitude to menstruation seems complex and contradictory. Although the practice has mostly died out, traditionally a girl’s first period was a rite of passage in many areas of Japan, celebrated with food (typically, red beans rice) and rituals. Japan today is also one of the only countries in the world where women are legally entitled to menstruation leave — though whether they actually feel comfortable taking it is another matter.
Yet, during my stay in Japan, I’ve come across multiple signs at onsen telling me not to use the baths during menstruation. According to a 2017 MyNavi Women survey asking 176 women, the vast majority — 73.3 percent — said that they believe period onsen was unacceptable, with most of them stating lack of hygiene and consideration toward other people as their prime reasons.
To the contrary, the 26.7 percent who were not against it, said that “it should be okay as long as one washes well before entering the onsen,” and “as long as one is using a tampon, it shouldn’t be an issue.”
But then again — are we talking simply about public concerns and principles? What if there’s no one else in the onsen with you? Would it be safe for you to enter?
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