Onsen/sento are huge things in Japan. For those that don’t know, Onsens and Sentos are public bathing house. WHATT PUBLIC?? Yes public, meaning you will be getting stark naked with strangers. And don’t worry both men and women are separate. You can find mixed bathing house but there aren’t a lot of them and typically more expensive. But anyway, the difference between Onsen and Sento are that an Onsen is a hot spring, meaning that the water is heat by natural hot springs and Sento is the same idea but instead of natural hot springs, the water is heated by heaters. Both are perfect if you just want to relax.
So how do you do onsens/sentos? Well first you will get naked will other people, and while you may be completely and utterly self concise (like me), I swear no one is going to paying attention to you, no one will judge you. It was so embarrassing the first time I went to one with my friends whom I had just met like a week ago, since we are in the same program, and I was so embarrassed but there was people of all shapes and sizes just getting buck naked so I was like whatever, JUST DO IT. Anyway, next there are typically lockers that free that come with a key to lock you shit up, find one that is open put all you stuff in there. BTW, I should mention, some place will give you a small, free, rental towel but other places will charge you a couple of yen, so bring you towel if you can. After you enter the onsen/sento, find an open shower and rinse off/ take a shower.Whatever you feel like, you just need to wash the dirt from your body before you get into the bath since it is a shared bath. They will most likely have shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Once you rinsed off, you may now enter the bath. Also if you have long hair either put it in a bun or tie it up. Don’t let it in the bath. Relax, chill out, they usually don’t have a time limit, and then once you are done you can re-take a shower or just go back and put on your cloths. This is just your ordinary sento/onsen. Other place have more amenities to offer or other complementary things and more types of bath to check out. I suggest researching the place you are going to first to see what they offer. This is just How To for every onsen/sento. YOU HAVE TO WASH OFF FIRST BEFORE YOU ENTER THE BATH.
Now, there are a couple in Hikone, but I have only been to one so far. And that is the one in the hotel across lake Biwa. It is only a 7 minute bike ride form JCMU, which is sweet. This is an onsen, the water is heat by natural hot springs and it is one the 6th floor of the hotel. It gives you the perfect view of Lake Biwa and if you go at sunset, just no words, it is gorgeous The price is not bad at all, 600 Yen (ish) before 5 p.m. and 800 yen (ish) after. There is a little ticket machine next to the check in counter. That is where you purchase the tickets. You have to put the money in first and then click on the kanji that has this 大人 (adult). Bring you own towels if you can, some place give out a free small towel but other places, like this one, will charge you a couple of yen to rent/buy one. It does have hair dryers, shampoo, body wash, and conditioner. The hotel was formerly name Hikone prince hotel (and some people will still remember it by that name) but it is now called かんぽの宿 彦根 (kanpanoyado hikone).Directions: Leave JCMU and head toward the 7 eleven. Right before you hit 7 ELevem, there is a dirt path with the Bikwako on the right shoulder. Take that path straight down all way till you see the hotel.