I have been told that, when soaking in the Japanese onsen, the hair must not touch the water, so people with long hair tie it to a knot. Does the same principle apply to facial hair? I have a goatee roughly down to my chest, and I tried to tie that to a knot as well. However, when my mind slipped, and my head nodded, the knot on my chin touched the water. Nobody seemed to mind though, or at least they did not show it.

I know long beards are rare in Japan, but is there a proper etiquette about long facial hair in the Japanese onsen?

Background: I am a European male on a vacation in Japan, with only rudimentary knowledge of the Japanese language, but a fair grasp of basic etiquette. I am very obviously identifiable as non-Japanese.

  • 3
    From my experience, the Japanese are more forgiving of foreigners not knowing the rules, so even if facial hair in the onsen was a problem I doubt anyone would make a fuss about it.
    – blackbird
    Commented Nov 23, 2017 at 13:33

1 Answer 1


Most Japanese have never seen such long facial hair except on TV, so they even don't know what is the proper etiquette. Some people would mind it if you are totally careless with your facial hair, but if you tie it to a knot, it would make a good expression, that you are very courteous to others.

So you acted the right way. Don't worry that much.

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    I gathered all my courage and asked a local in a Sentō today, and he said roughly the same thing. I guess there is no better answer then :) Thank you. Commented Nov 25, 2017 at 11:47

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