Men or women

Which entrance would you use?


The left entrance (the blue noren one) gives access to the men bathroom. The right one (the red noren one) gives access to the women bathroom.

Most onsen (hot springs) and sento (public baths) usually use the same noren colors and at the same time the sex is specified written on them, however if you can’t read Japanese this could be a problem.

Another possibility is that the baths are mixed (混浴 – こんよく: konyoku) in which women and men share the same ofuros. Although mixed baths are less and less common and you can only find them in very traditional ryokans.

Onsen for men or women

Onsen for men or women

Onsen for men or women

2 replies on “Men or women”

Pink/Red is the female colour in Japan; black (blue?) is for men. I used that tidbit once at an izakaya when a bursting bladder made me make a snap decision.

Interesting topic. Many onsen ryokan have small rotenburo that can be used by a couple or family, but as you say, the large mixed baths are few: only one I have been in is Takaragawa in Gunma – worth the trip.

Non-Japanese readers should realise that there is nothing sexual at all, not only because the culture does not equate sex and nudity in as adolescent a manner as my N. American peers, but also because the age range is three to eighty for both genders, and women of… ovulating years… tend to have towels that cover from nape to knee.

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