Monday, March 11, 2013
onsen: a hot spring in Japanese, and sometimes, the facilities around the hot spring (i.e., a communal bathhouse)
If I feel like talking about scandalous things, I will regale you with a short story about how I visited a hamam in Turkey and due to my occasional blood sugar problems, promptly fainted. There are more details, but those are for another time. This eventful trip was actually my second visit to a hamam, giving me an all star record of 1-1-0.
So far in Japan, my record is 2-0-1. If a 'win' is a visit-sans-unconsciousness, and a 'loss' is fainting, then what is a 'tie'? A tie is when you're sitting on a bench with your head between your knees and decide that you are way too high up and need to be sitting on the floor. A tie is when you internally debate whether you should ask for help or just give in and let go of all senses right there on the changing room floor...but instead, 10 minutes later, you're fine.
I made it through okay, then bought some peach Fanta and Pocky and promptly went to a second bathhouse. I had already paid for it, why not? Nothing bad happened. I'm a big girl. I survived. It was lovely. There's nothing quite like soaking in a hot mineral bath after a day of lugging your giant DSLR around. And just sitting there. Until the hot water makes you ever so slightly light headed that you forget about all that work stress nonsense.
Because. Seriously. It's nonsense.
So, when I google 'japan onsen', I get a lot of naked people.
There's a reason for that. That's sort of what it is (Turkish hamams aren't much different). You put your shoes in a locker, you buy a ticket from the machine, the cashier lady gives you a key for a locker in the changing room, you stash your stuff in the changing room, go into the pool room, wash yourself off with soap and water, and then sit in the hot water for awhile. There's usually a hot/44 degree or bubbling section and then a cooler, 42 degree not-bubbling section. Sometimes there's a sauna room. Afterwards, you dry yourself off and then change back into clothes.
Modesty and body image problems should've been left in the changing room lockers. Now if only I could store my blood sugar problems there too.