The Japanese have perfected the art of the soak. Onsen, a much beloved pastime in Japan, is an age-old ritual of soaking in hot water and can be found all throughout the country, from the mountains to the countryside to its busiest cities.
Spas, bathhouses and resorts in Japan all offer soaking experiences, but the most devoted of onsen-goers know outdoor baths, called rotenburo, offer the ultimate form of relaxation. Like an AlumiTubs wood burning hot tub, a rotenburo is a way to experience the outdoors through all seasons. From the comfort of an outdoor bath, you can take in fresh falling snow, the changing of autumn leaves, or the full moon on a mild summer’s night.
With that in mind, here's how to create your own Japanese onsen experience at home, using your AlumiTubs wood-fired hot tub.
1. Give Yourself a Good Scrub
Showering before getting in the onsen is of utmost importance. This helps keep the water clean as in Japan onsen baths are communal. You may not need to worry about that with your AlumiTubs, but keeping yourself clean helps maintain the longevity of your water, not to mention you've likely worked up a sweat chopping wood after all. Give yourself a good head-to-toe scrub, so you'll be at your freshest when you slip into the tub.
2. Go Naked
Nudity is usually the rule at the onsen. Not everyone will have the right set up to skinny dip but, if you're okay with skipping the bathing suit, the sensation of soaking sans suit can become addicting. Feeling shy? A bath under a dark and starry sky might be the ticket to warm up to the practice. The flickering light of candles can also help to add a soft and soothing ambience. To really perfect your Japanese-style of bathing, look for a candle scented with hinoki, a sweet-smelling wood often used to build Japanese baths, like Hinoki Fantome from Boy Smells or Le Long Fond from Maison Louis Marie.
3. Wrap Yourself in a Warm Robe
If you decide to lose the suit, a comfortable robe is key for getting to and from the tub. Japanese bathhouses usually supply a yukata, a loose cotton robe to wear, along with a pair of sandals. Geometric patterns and big bold florals are popular for yukata fabric, while shoes range from wooden sandals to rubber slides. A big, comfy robe made of natural fibres will also do the trick. Buy a set dedicated solely to soaking and keep them by the door closest to your tub.
4. Skip the Music
While music can set a mood, this style of soaking calls for quiet. Sit back and notice the sounds around you: the crackle of wood in the stove, the call of birds, the wind rustling the leaves in the trees. It’s a time to tap into all of the senses, to take in the smell of cedar and smouldering fire and the warmth of the water enveloping your limbs. Whether you’ve hauled your AlumiTubs to an epic spot next to the ocean or you’re ten feet from the house in your backyard, this is the moment to truly relax and let any weariness melt away.
5. Hydrate like the Japanese
And no we don't mean sake. Getting out of the bath may be a return to reality but there’s one final treat that can extend your onsen-like experience: a glass of cold milk. Small bottles of milk are often sold in vending machines in the lounge of resorts and bathhouses to drink after bathing. Even if milk isn’t the beverage you reach for, something hydrating will ensure you feel your best after relaxing in your own personal AlumiTubs onsen.
Transport yourself to a Japanese onsen, all from the comfort of your own wood-burning AlumiTubs.