The affair of the Japanese with hot springs is perhaps best shown in the Japanese movie Thermae Romae. In fact, the country is home to more than ten thousand hot springs (onsen) lying along volcanic belts.
Recently, there is a growing interest in including hot spring therapy into prevention of ageing and lifestyle diseases including cancer, hypertension, diabetes an so on. While there are thousands of hot springs in the country, it is necessary for one to soak at a hot spring with a high restorative power to maximize the potentials of its anti-ageing properties.
It has already been established in scientific studies that 90 percent of diseases and ageing are caused by free radicals. Free radicals are by-products of oxidation which are also one of the reasons why metals corrode and why foods get spoiled. Among the many sources of free radicals are UV rays, pesticides, food preservatives, cigarettes, stress and so on. The opposite of the oxidation process is reduction (or “restoration”). Onsen or hot springs are sometimes even called “the fountains of youth”; and as what was written in “Izumo no Kuni Fudoki”, soaking in hot springs rejuvenates your cells thereby reducing senescence or the process of ageing in your body.
It is said that the hot springs that have not breached the ground surface have a special oxidation-reducing power. These hot springs have antioxidants that prevent the formation of free radicals and therefore restore and activate our body cells. On the other hand, it is not advisable to soak in hot springs that have already breached the ground surface or those mixed with disinfectants because this results in a chemical change. As a consequence, the reductive power of the hot springs is decreased. Hokkaido, the northern Japanese island, is known for it’s clear natural hot spring waters and amazing nature. So it is definitely a region to visit if you are looking to freshen and “young” up!