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Onsen barriers 2009/6/8 16:40
I am aware that if you have tattoos that you cannot use an onsen. Are there any other restrictions on people's physical appearance? I have a large scar after a mastectomy last year. Is this a problem?
by Andrea (guest)  

Nope 2009/6/8 17:58
Most certainly not! You have absolutely no issues with being unable to use an onsen. The reason tattoos are disallowed in many (most?) places is because they are still associated with Japanese yakuza.

Enjoy your stay!
by Bean (guest) rate this post as useful

As long as your doc says you can 2009/6/8 22:38
Andrea, if your doctor says that your scar is cured enough for you to bath in an onsen, which I'm sure you are after more than 6 months, then there are no rules restricting people like you for the benefit of other bathers.

People like pregnant women or those with heart deseases are encouraged to stay out of the bath for their own well-being, but I see no reason for other bathers to feel uncomfortable about operation scars. I have a scar myself and I've never had a problem.

Of course, those who constantly need diapers should stay out of the tub, though.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

andrea 2009/7/18 12:31
hi andrea
thanks for asking this question. i had a masectomy done last year too and have been wondering whether i would be allowed to use the onsen. if you have been for your trip, how did it go? i will be in kyoto 21jul09
by Sam (guest) rate this post as useful

response to Sam 2009/7/18 13:35
Hi Sam! Glad to hear this question was useful to you too! I havent been on my trip to Japan yet - I leave Australia on 1 October so you will be there before me! Let me know how you get on. Andrea
by Andrea (guest) rate this post as useful

Image of intolerance 2009/7/18 13:52
I am kind of sad that anyone thinks that someone with a mastectomy scar would be banned from using an onsen in Japan. Do people really think that the Japanese are that intolerant/cruel? Where did this idea come from?
by Sira (guest) rate this post as useful

Response to Sira 2009/7/18 14:26
Hi Sira. You've misunderstood my enquiry. I posted this question because, from my perspective, I did not wish to offend or make others who might bathe with me uncomfortable because of how I look. I have a very high regard for the Japanese and only wish to act appropriately at the onsen. Andrea
by Andrea (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2009/7/18 18:01
Even in Japan, women who have mastectomy scars are often reluctant from bathing in public. Comments by those people suggest that it's not because they are afraid to offend others, but they are embarassed to show themselves. I personally feel there is no need to be embarassed, but I suppose this is something that only those who have the scars know, and no matter how much others encourage them to bath, it's something they have a hard time getting through.

But at the same time, I see celebrities with these scars commenting on TV that they were able to overcome these anxieties and bath in public. I even saw a show where someone talked about forming a group of women with these scars and they would travel around Japan bathing at various places together.

So at the end of the day, it's up to you. Others won't care, and you are free to put a small clean towel or something over your scar if that makes you feel better. By the way, I know it's a different thing, but have a scar from an operation myself and never had a problem with it, so having a scar itself will not affect anything in a public bath.

On a related note, inspired by a teen movie in Japan, the Pink Ribbon movement is at its boom for the moment.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

Reply 2009/7/18 23:07
Like Andrea, the mastectomy is still a pretty new change in my life, having been done just last year. I am still feeling my way around living post-cancer and like Andrea was concerned about making others feel uncomfortable. The one time I was at an onsen a few years back, quite a number of children were present and I guess I was thinking of them in particular. Never for once did it cross my mind that the Japanese are intolerant.
by Sam (guest) rate this post as useful

My experience 2009/8/23 17:07
Hi, We had a wonderful time in Japan. My daughter (6 years old) and I went to an onsen every single night and morning of our week long stay and enjoyed the experience very much. For most of the times, we were the only people in the bath. However, on one of the occasions when there were other bathers around, the young children (some boys and girls who were about 3 or 4 years old) came up to me and saw my scar and ran off to tell their mums and other friends, and insisted that they all come round to take a look. That was the only time my scar was "noticed". I felt a little bad for them because i could see the children felt uncomfortable although I tried to be discrete... but on the whole, no issue at all.
by Sam (guest) rate this post as useful

Thank You Sam 2009/8/23 18:52
Thank you for the follow up response after your trip Sam. It is amazing that you posted today because this afternoon I went on the website to see if you had made a response! Great to hear your experience was positive and you had a great time. I am very much looking forward to my trip in October and the onsen will be a highlight I am sure. Good luck with your health and future travels. Andrea
by Andrea (guest) rate this post as useful

onsen 2009/8/24 06:17
I think that these young children where not so much uncomfortable as intrigued. At that age everything is an absolutely new experience so any little variation from what they have already seen so far is a source of wonderment and they can't help pointing and staring but don't mean any harm. An unusually big nose, a bald head, a limp, crutches, the belly of a pregnant woman, things like that are surprising and interesting to young kids.

Years ago I was studying in Finland. One local staff brought her 5 years old girl to work one day so naturally she wanted to talk to that totally new person, me. I could only talk to her in English and her shock at hearing me was priceless. It didn't made sense to her that I couldn't speak Finnish. We went to the beach later and seeing my thick black body hair (many Finnish guys have little body hair) she told everybody that I was some kind of a big furry animal. It was the only thing that made sense to her.
Congratulations for taking the plunge so to speak. You are a brave and lovely person.

by Monkey see (guest) rate this post as useful

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