I am probably one of the few Indians brave enough to visit an onsen in Japan. Where I am from, it is unheard of in our culture to bathe naked among strangers—or even friends and family. We’re taught from a young age to respect our bodies by covering up. Most Indian families encourage modest dressing too. Any clothing item revealing too much skin is a big no-no. Because of my upbringing, I had a tough time initially adjusting to the onsen culture in Japan.
My first onsen experience took place in Hakone in 2017. My sister and I were backpacking around the country and wanted to experience a part of Japanese culture firsthand. Visiting a hot spring together has always been on our travel bucket list, and now that we were in Japan, we could finally tick it off the list.
I found the onsen experience very eye-opening. It was the first time for me to see women being comfortable with nudity and using the place as an opportunity to bond with their friends and family. I admired how free and comfortable they seemed with their bodies. This experience inspired me to build a similar relationship with mine. It wasn’t something that happened overnight, though. I had to broaden my perspective and rethink some of my beliefs.
The more time I spent in the hot spring, the more comfortable I felt in my own skin. Along the way, I learned a few valuable lessons about body positivity, which I would like to share with you.
We’re more conscious of our bodies than those around us
It took me a couple of trips to the hot spring to realize that the only person who was overly conscious of my body was myself. As long as I followed proper onsen etiquette, no one there seemed to mind whether my hair wasn’t in a perfect bun or that I had prominent love handles. Everyone was busy doing their own thing, focusing on themselves. It became a place where I could let down my walls without being judged.
Accepting your body boosts confidence
I admire how comfortable Japanese women are with their bodies in the onsen. No matter their age or physique, women don’t seem to be bothered by their tummy rolls, wrinkles, body hair, scars or marks on their bodies. Thanks to these women, I’ve gained a new level of confidence in my body. They taught me to accept it the way it is rather than wanting it to look a certain way. That realization itself is liberating.
Nudity is nothing to be ashamed of
Click here to read more.
- External Link