Places, Images, Times & Transformations

hot springs

(onsen). Hot springs are numerous in Japan, and for centuries the Japanese people have enjoyed hot spring bathing. Visits to hot spring resorts were hailed not only as a means of relaxation but also for the beneficial medicinal properties attributed to thermal spring water. Hot springs are still major attractions for vacationing Japanese, and many have been modernized and developed into large-scale resort complexes. Under the 1948 Hot Spring Law (Onsen Hō), the Japanese government recognizes as onsen only those hot springs that reach certain standards regarding temperature and mineral composition. Since 1954 the Ministry of Health and Welfare has accorded special recognition to 64 hot spring resorts capable of providing medical treatment. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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