This undated photo provided by Stéphanie Crohin shows traditional baths and murals in Kasuga onsen, or hot spring bath, in Matsuzaka, Mie prefecture, Japan. Japan is proud of its bathing traditions. For many Westerners, though, the fact that these traditions involve being naked with strangers is awkward at best, even though men and women bathe separately. (Stéphanie Crohin via AP)

TOKYO — Japan is proud of its bathing traditions in hot springs known as onsen and public bathhouses called sento.

Westerners may feel awkward visiting these traditional baths, however, because they involve getting naked with strangers.

But nothing is more relaxing after a tiring day of sightseeing than a long soak, and it's a way to truly experience authentic culture.

The baths are separated by gender.

And with everyone else acting like it's normal, you will quickly get comfortable.

This undated photo provided by Stéphanie Crohin shows a changing room in Unsuisen sento, or public bath, in Tokyo, Japan. Japan is proud of its bathing traditions. For many Westerners, though, the fact that these traditions involve being naked with strangers is awkward at best, even though men and women bathe separately. (Stéphanie Crohin via AP)

Stephanie Crohin is author of a book in Japanese about sento. She is the official volunteer ambassador for the Tokyo Sento Association and has visited over 700 sento across Japan. 

This undated photo provided by Stéphanie Crohin shows traditional baths and murals in Ayame-yu sento, or public bath, in Izunagaoka, Shizuoka prefecture, Japan. (Stéphanie Crohin via AP)

Her book and Instagram feed showcases their beautiful interiors. But their numbers are declining: Last year, she says, 40 sento closed in Tokyo.

This undated photo provided by Stéphanie Crohin shows washing stations in the Mitake-yu sento, or public bath, in Minami Urawa, Saitama prefecture, Japan. (Stéphanie Crohin via AP)

Associated Press