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I assumed that you don't need a swimming costume when going to an onsen, but I came across this page mentioning that some places require swimsuits (it mentions Tokyo ones require them more than rural ones). This saddens me a bit, as it apparently means 1) Japanese culture is being eroded by western influences 2) more luggage.

How common is this policy? Is this mainly the case in tourist traps rather than more traditional onsen?

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Is your swimsuit that bulky?! :) – Paul Richter Jan 31 '12 at 6:56
@PaulRichter: LOL. It's more that most of my getaways are skiing-related, and I always think "wouldn't it be nice if I went somewhere that didn't need any clothing?". Also, I was wanting to contrast the serious (item 1) with the flippant (item 2). – Andrew Grimm Jan 31 '12 at 7:53
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Those onsen requiring swimsuits are basically those in amusement parks or other trendy non-traditional facilities. Anything else, you can rest assured will not require swimsuits.

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