Drinking Hot Spring Water Improves Your Bodily Health from the Inside Out
‘Insen’ is the practice of drinking hot spring water for medicinal purposes. In Japan, there is a whole culture dedicated to using hot spring water to cure various ills, known as ‘Toji’. Insen is one aspect of Toji culture. These days, researchers are continuing to investigate the effectiveness of insen in promoting bodily health and recovery. Drinking facilities have been established at those hot spring locales where the waters have proven beneficial.
The type/quality of hot spring water will vary according to area. However, hot spring water is said to be effective in treating chronic constipation, obesity, chronic digestive tract disorders, diabetes, gout and gallstones. Furthermore, if you drink hot spring water from thirty minutes to one hour before meals, or on an empty stomach, the health content of the water is thought to be more readily absorbed. However, please be careful not to drink the water to excess as this could lead to an upset stomach.
Even though drinking hot spring water is said to be good for your health, not all health springs are created equal in Japan. Care must be taken to ensure that the quality of the water is of a safe standard and that the water will not further exacerbate the symptoms of one’s individual illness/condition. Before drinking the water, it is best to check whether the quality is safe and what health benefits you can expect to obtain. In the case that the only visible warning signs at your location are written in Japanese, it is best to ask at the tourist information desk, or someone nearby for clarification.
Hot Spring Facilities that Permit Insen
While it is possible to partake in the practice of insen at many hot spring locations throughout Japan, it is at the discretion of the individual hot spring establishment or ‘ryokan’ (traditional Japanese inn, often with an adjoining hot spring) as to whether or not they permit the practice. Therefore, it is best to check beforehand with either the ryokan itself or with a tourist information center as to whether or not an insen experience is available.