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Since Japan is a volcanic island, there are hotsprings all over the country from north to south. There are roughly 150 hotsprings with 14000 individual springs. These natural treasures have been used by many not only for medical treatment but also as a place to communicate with others and relax. Many cultural elements have sprong out just as the hot water from these springs. In recent years there springs have become a part of modern medical rehabilitation and recuperation.

The word hotspring is commonly used but when asked "What is a hotspring?" it is hard to give a definite answer. Where does all that water come from anyway?........

Hotsprings are not only water lines that are based on rain water being heated by earth's magma. Many of the hotsprings are virgin water springs (in some of areas when the earth's core is cooled down and it releases gases and water vapor which turns into hotwater) or fossil liquid (when ancient live forms died at the begining of time the remains disloved and turned into oil or water). The "Hotspring bill" signed in Syouwa 23rd year states: 1) Water temperature needs to be higher than 25c. 2) The water must contain an prerequired amount of minerals in 1kg of hotspring water. So if the water meets both criterias then that water can be claimed as a hotspring.
There are many different kinds of hotsprings for different uses and different features.

Simple Springs Water temperature is higher than 25c. Has less than 1gram of radical carbon, salt and other mineral elements. Good for neuralgia and rheumatism, also it is mild making it perfect for long term rehabilitations.
Carbonate Springs Has less than 1gram of radical carbon and other mineral elements in each liter. Basically close to the Simple Spring water but as you can guess from the name it is carbonated. Many of them are low temperature and cold water springs. Good for heart disease, blood circulation disorders, neurological disorders, female disorders.
Heavy Carbon Soil Springs More than 1gram/litter of radical carbon and other mineral elements. Good for rheumatism, neuralgia, chronic skin disorder. Also good for drinking to treat digestive problems and inflammation of the bladder.
Salt Springs Next to Simple springs in numbers, has more than 1gram/liter of mineral elements. If the water contains more than 1gram but less than 5gram of salt it is a weak saltine spring if less than 10gram then it is a Salt Spring , if more than 10gram the it is a Strong Salt Spring. Since is highly sufficient in keeping temperature it is called "Atsu no yu" (Warm hot water)
Saltine Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate Spring Salt springs with Sodium hydrogen carbonate content, alkine base.
Mirabilite Springs Good for arteriosclesis or cholecystitis and rheumatism. Sulfite natrium base bitter spring. Not recomended for drinking.ßB
Mirabilite Sodium Chloride Springs Mirablite springs with sodium chloride content. Good for same usage as Salt Springs and Mirabilite springs.
Gypsum Springs Good for rheumatism or wounds also help the metabolism when drank. High in calcium content bitter spring.
True Bitter Springs Sulfite magnasium is the main mineral content , good for rheumatism. Low in numbers.
Iron Springs Two different kinds of springs: Carbonate iron springs and green vitrol springs. When the water is boiled it turns red. The green vitrol springs contains sulfite iron and strongly acidic vitrol.
Acidic Springs Indiginous to Japan. Mainly in volcanicly active area, high concentration of hydrogen ions. Hard to bath in and should be adviced before taking a bath.
Alum Springs Main mineral element is sulfite alum. Good for skin disorders. Mostly acidic alum or acidic alum green vitrol springs.
Sulfer Springs Contains Sulfhydryl ions or Sulfer hydrogen, smells like rotting eggs. Good for drinking and treating many disorders.
Radium Hotsprings Contains a certain amount of radium or thoron, good for digestive disorders or rheumatism.
The Japanese always have been enjoying the hotsprings and much abotu the springs is known as common knowlegde. You don't need to be an expert to enjoy the springs but if you knwo a little more you might enjoy the springs even more. Even if you already know a lot just read it to brush up on your knowledge. (When you finish reading the pointers, click on the hotspring "Onsen" icon , there is an extra anecdote there....No , no AFTER you finish reading....)
point1 Just the hot springs are good for you doesn't means you should stay in the spring for a long time. Try to keep it around 2,3 times a day 30min each including washing time. (10min physically in the water , water temperature above 104F ) If the water temparuture is below 104F then it is better to take long bathes. Luke warm low mineral content water it is better to stay longer. If the temperature is high then don't go straight into it, but warm yourself up before you go in. It always is nice to do so anyway for others in the bath so that they know you cleaned yourself.
point2 The hotsprings not only contain minerals but the water pressure and buovancy is also good for stimulating the body. Just let it go and try to just float in the water. This is believed to relax you by simulating the environment inside a mother's womb. Also by warming up , your pores open up and clear out, also the minerals in the water will be absorbed.By bathing in the hotsprings it not only relaxes you but it also balances your nerve system.
point3 After bathing do you think "Well that was nice, I feel relaxed now, time to go." Since it is a public bath you want to clean yourself before you go? The minerals don't get absorbed by the skin until 6-7 hours later. Therefore if you clean yourself when leaving, you are washing the minerals away too. It is better to clean youself with clean direct water at the spring or just to leave it for a while.
point4 Not only are hot springs good for bathing but also for drinking. The water contains minerals that will stimulate the metabolism. Just because its good for the body doesn't mean drinking large amounts is good. Make sure that the water is officially permitted to be consumed, and then use the faucet that is designated for drinking the water. Don't drink it in a gulp try to drink it over 30-50 min period. Saltine, carbonate,sodium hydrogen carbonate , radium are good to drink after a meal. You should drink hot spring water on a empty stomach and not before spleeping.
Out of all the hotsprings in Japan , we picked some out from the northern part of Japan for this issue. Some of them are closelly located but the folk tales and customs differ from spring to spring. These springs have stories such as "so and so found this hotspring" or "this historical figure has an interesting past" things that you don't find in a regular history textbook. Offcourse these stories are legends and folktales being past on generation from generation and may not be very accurate but they are interesting to know. Well, where would you like to start?
Semi Hotsprings (Yamagata)
Onogawa Hotsprings (Yamagata)
Tsuchiyu Hotsprings (Fukushima)
Oigami Hotsprings(Gunma)
Yubiso Hotsprings (Gunma)
Hanashiki Hotsprings (Gunma)

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