It’s no secret that the Japanese love their hot springs, but who would’ve thought that animals in Japan loved getting lathered up at the onsen just as much?

As proof to this, a rare footage captured in 1957 was found showing cows and dogs soaking at the famous Dogo onsen in Ehime Prefecture. According to the video, there was a long tradition of fieldworkers bringing their cows and horses to the onsen after a long day of hard labor, to rinse off their sweat at the rotenburo (outdoor baths).

Dogs also joined this bath party, but admittedly with less enthusiasm. While the cows seem to love it, it’s clear that some of the dogs just aren’t having it — until they’ve succumbed to the pulls of their humans to get a deep scrubbing, that is.

It isn’t a sight commonly seen now, although there are facilities with baths for dogs, cats, rabbits, and other small animals. Unfortunately for the cows, they're no longer able to get that kind of service anymore, and we can only hope that they receive the same amount of attention and care at their respective homes.


Dogo onsen is one of the most famous areas for hot springs in Japan, with over 3,000 years of history. Rumored to have been favorited by famous personages like writer Natsume Sōseki and even Prince Shōtoku, it is said that the onsen was first discovered when locals saw an egret fly to the springs every day. It had an injured leg, and it has been told that the bird flew to the onsen every day to soak its leg in the springs, which, after some time, healed completely.


This was of course, a pleasant surprise for the locals, who, believing that the onsen was beneficial to their health, created the Dogo onsen over time into the nationally acclaimed hot springs area it is now. And although visitors won’t be able to bathe so extravagantly with their animal companions like they used to do circa 60 years ago, it warms our hearts to know that people have long been eager to allow their four-legged pals similar luxuries to what they have been able to enjoy regularly.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.