What is the difference between a Sento and Onsen? Thorough explanation!
Written by aki
In Japan, there are two types of bathing facilities: Sento(public baths) and Onsen(hot springs). However, many people may not know the difference between the two.
In this article, I will thoroughly explain the differences between Sento and Onsen.
Difference between Sento and Onsen
First, let’s explain the difference between Sento and Onsen.
Sento are bathing facilities that use artificially created bathtubs and hot water. On the other hand, Onsen are bathing facilities that use natural hot spring water.
Specifically, Sento are located in buildings in urban areas, and the hot water in the bathtub is mostly tap water.
On the other hand, Onsen use hot water that springs up naturally from underground, so the components contained in the water are different.
Let’s write Sento and Onsen in Kanji
Let’s start by writing in Kanji from Sento.
Sento’s beginnings date back to the Edo period. The name “sento” came from the fact that the fee to enter the baths at that time was “一銭”.
“銭” is the old Japanese unit of coin.
The literal translation would be a public bathhouse where people clutch coins.
Onsen, on the other hand, when written in Kanji, looks like the above.
As the meaning of Kanji suggests, Onsen uses hot water from naturally occurring springs.So Sento is a public bathhouse.
Points to consider when choosing a Sento or Onsen
Next, let’s explain the points to consider when choosing a public bath or a Onsen. Sento are easily accessible bathing facilities.
They are located in many urban areas and can be used on a daily basis. In addition, in many cases, the bathtubs are separated for men and women, so privacy is protected.
On the other hand, Onsen use natural hot water, so they have the characteristic of being able to expect health benefits.
In addition, Onsen facilities in Onsen towns may have outdoor baths and other unique features, making them even more relaxing.
My recommended Onsen resorts
Here are some personal recommendations for Onsen destinations.
Beppu Onsen is number one in Japan with 2,288 Onsen sources.You can enjoy many types of springs in the city.
There are many places where you can enjoy footbaths.
Onsen resort located in Yamagata Prefecture. The very retro townscape g is nostalgic and stylish.
Onsen is clear and colorless with a slightly salty taste.Its Onsen is said to help with cuts, stiffness, and cold.
Arima Onsen has a muddy brown Onsen called Kinsen (Gold Onsen).They are said to be highly effective in retaining heat and moisture due to their high iron content.
In general, I like the above three famous Onsen places, but I personally like Wakura Onsen in Ishikawa Prefecture and Kawayu Onsen in Hokkaido.
Enjoy a healthy bathing life by knowing the difference between Sento and Onsen!
Sento are easily accessible bathing facilities, and Onsen use natural hot water, so they have the potential for health benefits. By choosing the appropriate bathing facility, you can enjoy a healthy bathing life.
Recently, artificial Onsen that are said to have effects similar to those of Onsen have been attracting attention.
By entering a bathtub made of special materials such as minerals and ceramics, you can get the same health benefits as a natural Onsen.
Each bathing facility, such as Sento, Onsen, and artificial Onsen, has its own advantages and disadvantages.
By choosing the appropriate bathing facility, you can enjoy a healthy bathing life.