In Japan, onsen (hot springs) are enormously popular and part of everyday life-their temperature and mineral content are regulated by the Government. My favourite is the town of Hakone, where you can relax in the one of the many bath houses on the picturesque mountainside. There are several "onsen ryokans", traditional Japanese inns which have their own hot springs even if you aren't staying, they will allow day visits. Many of the pools are outdoors in beautiful wooded surroundings, even glimpsing Mount Fuji on a clear day. The onsen at Hakone Kowakien Yunessun are split into two separate areas - one, a traditional, nude environment and the other, a family zone requiring costumes where you can experience the surreal sight of enormous bottles of wine and casks of sake dwarfing the bathers soaking in themed pools. In one pool, coffee is added so caffeine can stimulate the skin, and in another, green tea is believed to help weakened immune systems. Afterwards, you may be offered black eggs cooked in the sulphurous pools nearby; eating one is supposed to add seven years to your life.
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