For a while, onsen were losing popularity in Japan. Recently, however, they are enjoying a resurgence in favor. This may be due to their expanded inclusion of health and recreation-related services. People can now spend an entire day at the onsen bathing, eating, getting massages, and shopping.
Eats and Drinks
Once you are fresh and clean, you will want to replace all those fluids you sweated out in the sauna and bath. Vending machines are a regular fix-ture nearly anywhere in Japan and you can easily get a cheap can or bottle of something to drink. You may be surprised to find out that hot drinks are also available from vending machines. If you are not sure whether the drink you are selecting will be hot or cold, please ask for assistance:
Kono nomimono wa attakai desu ka.
Is this drink warm?
Kono nomimono wa tsumetai desu ka.
Is this drink cold?
Notice how the words that describe the temperature of beverages differ from those used to describe a room. Attakai is preferred in this sense because it has a more positive connotation than atsui (“hot”). Tsumetai can be used in either a positive or negative way, depending on what is being described. Kaze ga tsumetai (“The wind is chilly”) is obviously not a good thing, but tsumetai o-cha (“cold tea”) in the heat of summer can be a blessing.
Miniature restaurants with soba, raamen, udon, katsudon, and karee raisu are also an option at many new onsen establishments. Ice cream, puddings, sweet breads, and fruit are also usually available for hungry bathers. Some families bring o-bentoo from home and enjoy eating together in the communal chill-out room.
Most onsen establishments have self-serve complimentary tea available for customers. Whether the tea is hot or cold usually depends on the season. Hot is usually served in cool weather and cold for warm weather.
Getting a Massage
Massage therapists have also become regular fixtures at many onsen. Acupuncture (hari), aromatherapy (aromaserapi), reflexology, and shiatsu (a traditional form of Japanese massage involving pressure points) are just a few of the available services. If you are interested in getting a massage, you can inquire at the front desk for open time slots and costs.
The massage therapist will probably ask you a variety of questions about your body and where you would like to be massaged.
Doko ga itai-n desu ka.
Where do you feel pain?
Doko ni massaji shite hoshii desu ka.
Where would you like to be massaged?
Itakattara oshiete kudasai.
If it hurts, please tell me.
Ashi o sawatte mo ii desu ka.
May I touch your foot?
If you have a specific part of your body that needs attention, you can let the therapist know.
Kata kori desu.
I have stiff shoulders.
Koshi ga itai.
My lower back hurts.
Ashi no ura ni massaji shite hoshii desu.
I would like you to massage the bottoms of my feet.
Throughout the massage, it is important to communicate how you feel. Chotto itai or ii kimochi will give the therapist important feedback. When the massage is finished, you can also let her know whether you feel better or not.
That was great.
Kimochi ga yoku narimashita.
I feel much better.
Mada chotto itai-n desu kedo.
I still have a little pain.
Yokatta and yoku narimashita are past-tense forms of the adverb yoku (“well”). Yoku combines with narimashita (“to become”) to describe a complete recovery.