Onsens – The Japan’s Hot Springs
Millions of people visit the hot springs of Japan either for medicinal purposes or relaxation. Recently, an estimated 140 million people checked in at the hot-spring inn or hotels in a year in Japan.
There are evidences that as far back as the 8th century, the hot springs has been in use. The Japanese have enjoyed bathing in these geothermal waters for many centuries. The 16th century feudal Lord Takeda Shigen popularized the medicinal values of the mineral springs. After battles, he and his Samurai warriors bathed in the hot springs to help heal sword wounds, broken bones, cuts and bruises. The water was also useful for relieving stress and preparing the men for the next battle.
For security reasons, Takeda and his Samurai warriors used a group of remote and secluded springs, which were called the Shigen’s hidden baths. These springs presently are used by professional athletes, including sumo wrestlers and baseball players, believing that the water reinvigorate their bodies for future competitions.
Studding the surface of the archipelago are some 245 volcanoes, 86 of which are still active. Japan islands which sit on top of converging lithospheric plates are areas of constant earth movements. The boundaries of these plates are regions of volcanic activities. Interacting with magma (molten rocks) or hot rocks, the groundwater is warmed and absorbs minerals. This gives rise to the mineral waters.
A 1998 study shows that there are about 2,839 hot springs in Japan. They come in different sizes, shapes and colours. For the sake of chemical classification, they have been categorized into nine by the Japan Environmental Agency.
Around the springs are beautiful natural surrounding of mountains, valleys, rivers, the seashore, and plains. You can bath under a waterfall which gives you a natural massage or in the caves where hot mineral water bubbles up from the deep recesses of the rock formations. Some springs are located on the beach while others are nested alongside rivers.
It is a wonderful place to visit. Make it you next point of call.
Fortune Ihunweze who is the author of this article is a professional Environmental resources Manager. He is very vast in environmental management issues and has written many articles on the environment. His website which covers just about everything you would need to know about the environment is located at: http://www.environmenthighlight.com
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