Mixed Gender Public Onsen in Japan

Jul 12th, 2015, 07:27 AM
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Mixed Gender Public Onsen in Japan

On our first two trips we visited a few ryokans with onsen bathing facilities, usually taking advantage of the smaller family baths that could be booked privately, to Pete and I to chat as we shared the experience. I did use a shared indoor bath a few times, though I felt quite self-conscious, being significantly larger than most Japanese women and without the distraction of a friend/ family member to talk to in a bid to overcome that fear.

As per my other thread, areas of Japan that we are investigating for our 4 week trip include Tohoku, Kanazawa, Chugoku and Shikoku. We will also spend some time in Kanto, probably at Hakone and Nikko.

I know there are onsen that offer large mixed gender baths but these are hard to search for using search engines and booking sites. I'm not looking for the visitor attractions offering multiple baths in a public pool type building, but for traditional onsen attached to traditional ryokans.

What I'm looking for are ryokans in any of the above areas that can offer:
* Comfortable rooms with ensuite toilets and preferably also bathrooms
* Shared public onsen baths that allow mixed gender bathing, preferably where one is permitted to wear either a bathing suit, large white towel or robe, for modesty
* Decent in-house dining
* If available, also outdoor family baths that can be booked privately

I do remember reading a trip report about a visit to a remote ryokan in northern Tohoku (was it one of HT's fine reports?) that fit the bill but can't remember which of the reports it was in, so I'll need to find time to read all of the reports again to see if I can track it down again.

At the moment, as my itinerary is still TBC, I'm potentially able to plan the route to take in a specific ryokan that fits the bill. Obviously, if it can be located somewhere in / near a destination of interest to tourists, that would be a huge bonus.

Grateful for all suggestions!
Kavey is offline  
Jul 12th, 2015, 11:31 AM
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>>was it one of HT's fine reports?

Yes, I'm sure that one of his TRs covered their visit to Kakunodate and an onsen town nearby. I think it was in the Nyuto Onsen area but he called it something else (or a different place altogether in the same area).


Nobody cares what you look like nude unless you are a person who looks good nude. "being significantly larger than most Japanese women" just means that they have seen some Japanese women who are larger than most Japanese and IF you get noticed then it is because you are not Japanese.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jul 12th, 2015, 12:39 PM
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ht mentioned the Osenkaku Ryokan in Takawagara Onsen in his 2008 trip report - that might be the one you mean. I have it downloaded but you should be able to search for it here....
Mara is offline  
Jul 12th, 2015, 12:45 PM
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Was it this one?
Still think a southern route, then working north might be best.
No telling until you know if sakura will be early or late.
With your time frame you should be able to see the best.
One thought I had was to go for the "best" by trying to hit Yoshino.
In any event you're going to have a great time
kalihiwai2 is offline  
Jul 12th, 2015, 06:09 PM
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Never seen any onsen with people wearing swimsuit.

And of the "mixed gender" ones that I visited in Kurokawa, I only see males inside.
rkkwan is offline  
Jul 12th, 2015, 09:49 PM
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Thanks folks,
Interestingly, I posted the query on Japan-Guide as well and the first recommendation that has come through is also for Takawagara Onsen - the poster advises that one can indeed wear swimming costumes there but this is mentioned only in the Japanese text and not the English version.
I have also read about places where woman are given a larger towel to wrap themselves in inside the mixed onsen, in one place, and another where a type of white robe is given to wear in the waters.
It's true that most mixed will still have more men, but that's fine, if I can wear either my large tower or a swimsuit, I'm fine.
As I mentioned, I have visited female only shared baths on my own, and staring wasn't rude, but I did feel self-conscious about it.
Kavey is offline  
Jul 12th, 2015, 09:55 PM
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I think the one HT was talking about might be Osenkaku, which is at Takawagara Onsen, I now see.
Kavey is offline  
Jul 13th, 2015, 09:06 AM
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Osenkaku in Takawagara Onsen and the one up north in Tohoku is the gem of a minshuku called Tsurunoyu



There are quite a few gender mixed ryokan we have been to. Sanga Ryokan in Kurokawa Onsen is another. See here for some ideas...


Still working on your weather but all points are to an earlier than normal sakura and even more because of the potentially record breaking El Nino that has formed in the Eastern Pacific.

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jul 13th, 2015, 09:29 AM
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in ALL of the mixed rotenburo and indoor mixed hotspring baths I have been to women are ALWAYS allowed a modest white towel to cover their modesty. Its big enough to wrap from your shoulders to your upper thighs. No large beach towels are allowed. If you bring your own towel make sure that it is clean and a white towel, no colored towels. Men are allowed a small white hand towel to hide behind while getting into the water but is not supposed to touch the water so that last second before you go under can be tricky....lol
sometimes the male towels are a little too small

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jul 13th, 2015, 04:19 PM
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Thanks ht for clarifications!
rkkwan is offline  
Jul 13th, 2015, 09:37 PM
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Yep the towel I purchased for the last trip is larger than average bath towel, enough to get around me, but is utterly plain white, no patterns or markings on it at all.

We did visit Sanga Ryokan but they didn't have any mixed gender baths when we were there, I don't think.

Thanks for the weather tip, will wait to hear from you, very much value your input and grateful to you for taking the time to investigate that for me.

Aah, I think it may be the Tohoku one I read about actually!
Kavey is offline  

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