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Published January 17th 2011
Located just on the outskirts of the CBD in Collingwood, Ofuroya was Australia's first traditional Japanese public bathhouse that opened on 7th July 1999.
Once you walk in side this establishment, the authentic Japanese environment will make you feel as though you have left Australia and entered the exotic world of Japan. This Onsen (hot spring) has one main priority, to make your experience peaceful and relaxing.
Onsen are a central feature of Japanese culture and can often usually be found in the Japanese countryside. However, there are a number of popular establishments still found within the major cities. Onsen were traditionally used as a public bathing place, however nowadays they are a major tourist attraction drawing Japanese couples, families or company groups who want to get away from the hectic life of the city to relax. Japanese often talk of the virtues of "naked communion" for breaking down barriers and getting to know people or as a means of doing business in the relaxed peaceful atmosphere.
As it is a part of Japanese tradition, guest are required to strip down to the bear skin, however be assured that the staff are 100% professional and segregated by gender, so instead of bathing shyly, embrace the body that you were given with and soak up that 40 degree steaming water.
Most Australians won't be familiar with the Japanese bathing experience, so it is important to understand a few rules of etiquette before and during bathing.
At an onsen, all guests are expected to wash their bodies and rinse themselves thoroughly before entering the hot water. Bathing stations in Japan are usually equipped with stools, faucets, wooden buckets, and toiletries such as soap and shampoo; nearly all onsen also provide removable shower heads for bathing convenience. Entering the onsen while still dirty or with traces of soap on the body is socially unacceptable.
Onsen guests generally bring a small towel with them to use as a wash cloth. The towel can also provide a modicum of modesty when walking between the washing area and the baths. Some onsen allow one to wear the towel into the baths, while others have posted signs prohibiting this, saying that it makes it harder to clean the bath. It is sometimes against the rules to immerse or dip towels in the onsen bath water, since this can be considered unclean. In this latter case, people normally set their towels off to the side of the water when enjoying the baths, or place their folded towels on top of their heads.
Once you have finished your au natural bath, you can dress yourself in the provided Japanese kimonos and relax in the Tatami lounge while you enjoy a relaxing beverage of choice. When you finally leave the Ofuroya, you will be guaranteed to leave relaxed and in a peaceful state of mind. So come on and take some time out of your busy schedule to enjoy yourself at the Ofuroya, where your mind will be put at ease.