Onsen are a distinct aspect of Japanese culture, and the Japanese consider them to be great fun. There is a unique set of procedures involved in onsen bathing. Further, in many cases, there is certain etiquette to be observed at onsen where a number of people bathe at the same time. Observe these rules and enjoy your onsen experience to the fullest!

Remove all of your clothes in the dressing room. Take only your face towel into the bath area, and do not wear anything inside.

Before entering the bathtub (shaped like a large pond at facilities such as outdoor baths), wash down lightly outside the bath using water from the tub, or take a shower. It's recommended that you pour the water on yourself starting with your feet and work upward.

Enter the bath slowly, feet first. Once you are about halfway submerged in the water, wait until you warm up and then keep going until just the tops of your shoulders are still above the water. Be careful not to let your towel touch the water (some people fold it up in a little square and place it on their head).

Once you've sufficiently warmed up, wash again as desired including your hair. Rinse yourself off well and then go back into the bath, submerging yourself.

When you come out of the bath, either rinse the onsen water off or not as desired (it is believed that not rinsing the onsen water better maintains the onsen special minerals on your skin). Then dry yourself off lightly with the face towel and go back into the dressing room. When you come out of the bath, do not let the water out of the tub, even if you were the only one in the bath.

Use the towels in the dressing room to dry yourself off well, and then put on the yukata if one is provided. At many onsen, there are some basic skin care products, massage machines, etc., and using these to help you relax is all part of the fun of the onsen!