As the kids and I researched Japan in preparation to move, we began to hear about Onsens. Friends who have lived here before (or live here now) said we HAD to do this. I determined I would. Wikipedia reports:
An onsen (温泉?) is a term for hot springs in the Japanese language, though the term is often used to describe the bathing facilities and inns around the hot springs. A volcanically active country, Japan has thousands of onsen scattered along its length and breadth. Onsen were traditionally used as public bathing places and today play a central role in directing Japanese domestic tourism.
Yes, I was shocked when we discovered that we would be expected to go nekkid in the hot springs. The kids decided it wasn't for them. I decided I would do it....and I'm thrilled to have done it early in our assignment so that I can enjoy Onsening for the next three years. ::snort::
Friday night four ladies from chapel (me being one) went out for dinner and onsening. For two of us, Renee and myself, it was our first trip to the Onsen. I'd heard that some Onsens frown on foreigners because we don't always follow the proper ettiquette. This is for cleanliness and relaxing...not for rowdy rough housing. I am thankful to Deb and Twyla for inviting me to go onsening.....they KNEW what to do and I didn't have to worry about being unaware of offensive actions. I'm also thankful that Renee went along so that I wasn't the only one feeling a bit anxious about the experience. LOL
Renee - my first friend in Misawa, I've been promising you a photo and there she is on the left...about to try Onsening for the first time. I believe she's still glad I moved here. ::snort:: Don't you love Twyla's rather gaudy earring?
We stopped for dinner at a Korean restaurant. I had bolgogi and it was yummy!
Wikipedia shares this:
People with tattoos are usually not welcomed but one may be allowed in if the tattoos are not terribly obvious. If one ventures to an onsen that is publicly owned, this "should not present a problem as they have a duty to let all tax-paying citizens in. The original reason for this ban was to keep out yakuza, or members of other organized criminal gangs."
I wish I'd taken the time to try this. The little fish nibble the dead skin from your feet. Maybe next time.
The showers WERE unexpected....not one giant shower room...but low counters with a stool to sit on, a mirror, your own shower hose and basin. Very nice. I'll take a photo if I ever happen to visit an empty Onsen...Friday night isn't the slow time from what I could see. ::snort::
The pools range from 16*C to 42* C. There were indoor and outdoor tubs. There was a pool with a fragrant colored water. There were saunas and steam rooms. There is a little restaurant and a massage room...lots of things to try and explore. This place is next to the Organic Restaurant....which opens up mid-week opportunities...I wonder if Onsens are open during the day and if there would be less people. There were moms/daughters...grandmoms/grandkids....friends...and I'd love to do this with Arielle and Stacia...but will have to find a quiet spot if I hope to talk Arielle into it.
I also discovered that many middle age women DO take a teeny towel with them...and I plan to buy a few teeny towels. ::snort:: I plan to explore the various Onsens in the area and find my favorite. Outdoor tubs in the winter sound delightful!
This was incredibly relaxing. I can't begin to explain how nice it was. The stress and tension you may be feeling simply evaporates. This is a good thing the Japanese culture has cultivated! If any one local is ever looking for an Onsen partner; I'm available. ::snort::
Thank you Deb, Twyla and Renee for sharing this first with me. As I told you earlier, this certainly ensures I'll not forget any of you, even when I'm 98 and recalling my Japanese adventures to my great, great grandchildren.
~ Coram Deo ~
Living all of life before the face of God...