We are now in Osaka, having just come from a place called Kinosaki Onsen.
For those of you unfamiliar, an onsen is a hot spring. They usually take the form of communal baths, and the traditional way of doing them is in the birthday suit. This is how the Japanese do them – I don’t know how a bathing suit might be regarded, I would probably get glares.
Any person who follows my blog might suspect I have a few body image type issues, and sure enough, nuding up in front of those people not my hubby brings about a little anxiety.
But, I thought, hey, I have 2 choices. I can sit in my room and run a hot bath in private, or get into the spirit of it. I manned (and nuded) up and chose the latter.
And I have to say, it was quite liberating. It is all quite normal for the Japanese.
There was a bath at the place we were staying and also several public baths in town. A lot of them, I was alone, so I got to do a starfish in the pool.
The routine is that you sit on a stool and wash yourself with soap, rinse off and then jump in (well walk in). The water is naturally mineral rich and quite hot, I could only tolerate it for about 10 minutes or so. Some of the places have outdoor rotemburo (baths). They were quite good because it was cool outside. All of the baths are segregated; male and female.
It cures what ails you. In my case, it was some muscle aches and pains, and also I took a great big dose of “get over myself”. It was a liberating experience and, strange as this may sound, I feel better about myself for it.
The place we stayed, Nishimuraya Honkan, was a very traditional, very upmarket Onsen Ryokan (traditional style hotel with onsen on site). It was aaaaaaaaaahmazing. We had our own little servant, Kayoko-san, who came and bought us our Japanese haute cuisine dinner. It was amazing food, visually and taste wise (though there are a few Japanese flavours I am not especially fond of). There was also a cooked breakfast which Kayoko served us.
The onsen on site were very luxurious, with fluffy white towels, nice skin cleansers and lotions to use, hair dryers and even a massage chair that we could use, theoretically, as long as we wanted. I never saw a Japanese person in there.
Kinosaki Onsen itself is a beautiful little village, nestled among the mountains but near the beach, where bath houses, cute shops and shrines intermingle.
We have had lots of holidays, but Ian and I found it up there with the best things we have done.
Tonight, a pitstop in Osaka. We have just come back from town, we went up to the top of a tall building and had a drink and took in the view.
My alcohol tolerance appears to have deserted me; I had 3 wines tonight and feel sick.This does not bode well for London, where my friend will try and ply me with the stuff.
Off to Koyasan (Mount Koya) tomorrow, this is an important Zen Buddhism place in Japan, we are staying in a buddhist inn and being fed vegetables.
Then to Nara, then Kyoto, then back to Tokyo to do Karaoke with Kathryn.