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Onsen Legends: Delving into traditional hot springs and the mystical stories surrounding them


Onsen, or traditional Japanese hot springs, have been an important aspect of Japanese culture for centuries. Not only are they considered beneficial for one’s health and well-being, but they are also steeped in mystical stories and legends that add to their allure and popularity.

What are Onsen?

Onsen are naturally occurring hot springs that are found throughout Japan. The hot water is heated by geothermal energy and contains a number of minerals that are believed to have therapeutic properties. Onsen are typically found in rural areas, such as in scenic mountain towns or near the coast, and are often accompanied by ryokans, or traditional Japanese inns, where guests can stay and enjoy the hot springs.

Legends and Stories

Onsen are not just known for their health benefits, but also for the many legends and stories that surround them. One popular legend is about a fox who visited an onsen every day to heal its injured leg. The fox eventually became friends with the innkeeper and, when it finally healed, it revealed its true form as a magical fox spirit. Another story tells of a maiden who was cursed by a jealous goddess and turned into a frog. She was found by a kind innkeeper who took pity on her and allowed her to soak in the onsen. After a few days of soaking, the maiden turned back into a beautiful woman and the innkeeper fell in love with her.

Onsen Today

Today, onsen continue to be an important part of Japanese culture and attract tourists from all over the world. There are over 3,000 onsen in Japan, ranging from rustic and traditional to modern and luxurious. Many onsen have also been adapted to allow tattoos, which are traditionally not allowed in Japanese hot springs due to their association with the yakuza, or Japanese mafia.


Onsen are not just a place to relax and unwind, but also a place to delve into the rich history and mythology of Japan. Whether you’re soaking in a rustic spring in a small mountain town or indulging in a luxurious spa resort, the stories and legends surrounding onsen are sure to add to your experience.
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