Where the culture is to come clean

JAPAN is world famous for its hot spa baths.

Ken Osetroff, director of Toursgallery explains that "a bath in Japan is more than a place to wash, it is a chance to relax, socialise and escape from the frantic world".

Taking a bath in Japan is considered as part of the cultural experience.

In addition to gaining the therapeutic benefits of soaking in volcanic mineral waters, a bather can enjoy scenic views or be surrounded by cherry blossom gardens.

All traditional Japanese inns, ryokans and spa resorts provide these often elaborate hot baths for their guests to relax in.

Spa water temperature can be well over 45 degrees where it comes out of the underground source, and is far too hot to bathe in.

However, visitors to almost any volcano, fumarole or spa town in Japan can eat the "black eggs" that have been cooked in that same hot mineral water.

Called an onsen, baths come in various forms, from an extravagant indoor complex with steam rooms, waterfalls and whirlpools to intimate balcony baths for two.

Toursgallery offers five different tours to Japan in 2012, on which guests can literally immerse themselves in Japanese culture, in luxurious baths with temperatures about 37deg C.

Communal or mixed sex baths are rare but can still be found in rural Japan.

Visitors should also keep in mind that very few western-style city hotels provide an onsen for their guests.

Toursgallery has a selection of 12 to 21-day small group escorted tours of Japan from $6400 per person, twin-share.

These tours are limited to only 15 guests and stay in a mixture of traditional Japanese spa resorts, ryokans and hotels.

A private charter coach, an Australian tour manager, Japanese guide and gourmet dinners help to create a very comfortable Japanese cultural experience.

For more information visit: Tours Gallery.

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