Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Raging River of Death: Part 2

After a grueling 3 hours of rafting in the pouring rain, we were all in dire need of relaxation. Where do the Japanese go when they want to relax? To the public bath of course! This is called an onsen. (oh-nsen)

Naturally I wasn't able to take pictures IN the onsen. Bummer I know. Especially since we were all naked. Thats right. The only thing you can bring in is a small towel to cover your...personal area. Men and women are in seperate rooms by the way. Don't get too excited.

This was my first onsen experience. Hatsu Onsen.

First, I strip off everything, and walk into a room with about 10 shower heads lining the right wall. On the left is a huge steaming hot bath, full of naked old men, but before I can jump in, I have to get myself completely clean. I sit on a small stool in between two guys I've never met, and begin to bathe. It's a strange feeling, but no one is watching (unless you're a foreigner, in which case EVERYONE is). Of course my shower head is broken, so it takes much longer than I want it to. When I finish I wait for awhile to see what I'm supposed to do next. I copy the man next to me and dump a bucket of water over my head to rinse off, pick up my coverage towel, and sink in the giant bath alongside everyone else.

Once you get over the discomfort of being naked in front of everyone, it really is relaxing.

Tetsuya and I after our...manly bath together. The blue curtain behind us is the men's entrance, the red one for women. The girls took significantly longer than us, so we sat and read children's comics while waiting.

I forgot the name of the girl on the left. She's from Korea and is also studying Japanese. Then there's Natsumi, and Machiko.

When I got out of the onsen it looked so beautiful I had to make everyone wait while I took a picture.

This is the onsen entrance, and the fancy Japanese style car we rode in.

We still had not paid for the rafting trip, so we headed back to the office to hand over the cash. Why they trusted us to do that I don't really know. That's just the Japanese way I suppose.

We were all starving after our excercise, so we headed to this little ramen shop. The sign says Suzuran...Lily of the Valley.

This area is famous for Hakata ramen. The broth's flavor is made from pig bones. YUM!

To get back we had to pass a fairly wide mountain range. When I saw it on the map I was a little concerned about driving for an hour through windy roads followed by a 3 hour ride in a boat, then back through the windy roads. I took my meds (yoidome) just in case, but in Japan, you don't drive around mountains. There's just no time for that. The ENTIRE way looked like this. Tunnels were built all the way through the mountain range. Hardly a curve in sight.

Japan is wonderful.


Garyn said...

I have to say that I am surprised that you of all people would be okay with the whole public bath thing.... but after all you did eat a chip off the ground in a parking lot in san clemente. And no curves through a mountain side? Japan really was made for you. welcome home.

kwolfgirl said...

yay japan! looks like fun..i laugh because i thought it was bad when people would always stare when i was a foreigner, but at least i wasn't naked! hahah. good job.

Derek said...

So, thanks for introducing me to this awesome blog of goodness. I'm going to read up when I have time. I just wanted to say that onsens are the BEST things that exist in Japan. I spent a whole day in Tokyo at one and I have never felt so relaxed and calm. Thank you for keeping a blog and making me want to go back to Japan that much more. It's late. Perhaps I can cry myself to sleep.

Patrick Jinks said...

Not so fast on the King Update title. besides, you have years to go before you can even compete with me. You don't know that I am running about 5 blogs simultaneously (seriously)! still, you're off to a pretty good start! Uncle Pat.

erin said...

dude. i commend you for just jumping in and living in such a different culture. that's gotta be hard, confusing and crazy... but so much fun! i like reading about all the adventures. Although... i bet when it gets real quiet and you reflect on life, you sometimes dream about being back in Durango, CO.

Robin O. Manning said...


You can tell you're an artist by the wonderfully composed picture you take. Awsome stuff. Keep it up. I'm enjoying every bit of it.