Hugh Jackman Bares It All At Japanese Hot Spring

Wolverine in water

While in Japan and shooting his upcoming movie The Wolverine, Hugh Jackman committed a small social faux pas. He would relax in the hot springs, or "onsen", during some of the breaks and use the small towel he was given to regulate his body temperature by soaking it in cold water and placing it on his head while he bathed. After getting some awkward stares, one of the fellow bathers pointed out what the towel was supposed to be used for:

"I was feeling uncomfortable and finally this guy in the tub grunts and points to my head and then grunts and points to my private parts. Finally I realised the towel was meant to be covering my privates and I'd spent about an hour just waltzing around this place with this thing in one hand and a beer in my other hand!" 

Sadly, no pictures were taken to document the event. 


  1. SteveC says

    Where did he think he was?
    A gay sauna?

    (Oh I shouldn’t say that – it will only encourage his wife to start on again about what a big butch man her husband is – and I believe her. Jackman is as FIERCELY heterosexual as John TRavolta and Queen Latifah are)

  2. Ted B. (Charging Rhino) says

    Always intrigued that traditional Japanese culture’s solution to nudity taboos and group nudity allowed that the skimpiest cloth “conceals” even if everything-still-showing underneath and one is no-longer “naked”…even if mixed genders are present.

  3. GregV says

    I think Hugh may have misunderstood what the guy was grunting about.

    The cloth is to be used to clean every nook and cranny of your body in the sit-down showers beside the hot spring, and the next rule is that you must be naked and clean before entering and can’t let any cloth ever touch the spring water.

    Plenty of Japanese men throw the cloth into the laundry basket before entering and others wear it on their heads like Jackman did (because it’s presumed to be the one “safe” spot on your body that won’t touch the spring water).

    If a person is body-shy, he may cover his genitals ONLY while standing up, but NEVER while sitting down in the spring water, because that would be considered to be “contamination” according to the tradition. Nobody is EXPECTED to hide his genitals.

    Japanese tradition at the hot springs is very specific about the idea of observing dividing lines between what is allowed to touch what. (For example, when you enter and pay, there will be an small step up which denotes the exact dividing line between where a shoe may touch the floor and where not a single inch of your shoe can touch from that point on).
    My best guess is that the grunt and gesture meant, “You can use that cloth to hide your genitals when you stand up if you’re shy, but you are not to soak it in THAT water over their and then bring it to this pure spring water over HERE.

    Of course, it may also have meant, “I like your ding-a-ling.”

  4. GregV says

    Also: I had exactly the same experience where a young, handsome Japanese man who was standing buck naked beside the hot spring (not covering anything up) gestured to my ding-a-ling and said SOMETHING about it. I was intensely curious WHAT he was saying (Western people don’t talk to strangers about their genitals) but still don’t know.

  5. s__n says

    Came in here to say what GregV said. The small towel is not to touch the water. In an onsen complete nudity is not only expected, it’s required!

  6. Howard says

    I asked my husband, who is Japanese from Japan, about this and he advised me that GregV is correct. The little towel can be worn on your head, but it must NEVER be allowed to touch (and therefore contaminate) the water in the hot spring.

  7. Matt26 says

    At least in Finnish sauna everyone is naked and it is not about sex at all. So Hugh anytime you want to try feel free to call and we’ll try it.

  8. kirby says

    Actually, I live in Japan, and only boys going through puberty use the towel to cover themselves. Kids and adults walk around naked. It would be weird to see an older guy cover up.

  9. says

    This can’t be right.

    I was in Japan and went to onsens and you basically walk around butt naked. You CAN use the small towel for modesty if you like (I walked around with it in my hand because I felt like I needed a prop . . . but that’s my neurosis), but most men don’t. I found it highly liberating and refreshing.

  10. Rick says

    Reading these comments reminds me of how awkward my first time at the onsen was. I knew the customs, and since I had just barely turned 17, I was definitely one of the shy ones covering up until the very last second. But yes, you never let the rag touch the water.

    I saw one old Japanese guy ring it out in the water once, though, and everybody evacuated while he just sat there. So rude.

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