As winter rolls around and it becomes impossible to get through the day without the 暖房 (danbō, heating), there’s nothing better than getting in a bath or 温泉 (onsen, hot spring). 体の芯まで温まります (Karada no shin made atatamarimasu, It will warm your body to its core).

For many of us non-Japanese, however, going to an 温泉 for the first time is a much more daunting task than hopping in the お風呂 (o-furo, bath) at home. Not only do you need to muster up the courage to get naked in public, but there are all sorts of 温泉マナー (onsen manā, onsen etiquette) to figure out.

If you want to experience the wonders of 温泉, then it’s time to get familiar with it all. A good place to start is to understand that 温泉 and 銭湯 (sentō, public baths) are different. 温泉は自然から湧き出るお湯またはガスで温めたものですが、銭湯は人工的につくられた公衆浴場です (Onsen wa shizen kara wakideru o-yu matawa gasu de atatameta mono desu ga, sentō wa jinkō-teki ni tsukurareta kōshū yokujō desu, Onsen baths are heated with natural springs or by natural gas, but sentō are man-made public baths that are artificially heated).