Oct 302007

I figured I would mention this while I could still remember it. I just went down to the baths in the basement of the hotel. Okay, you know how you always hear, “Be careful, the baths in Japan are really hot!” you may be tempted to think, “Yeah, right.” At least I did.

Until now.

Man, those baths are hot. I started off by sitting on a little stool and washing myself with soap and water, because I’m probably dirty and I probably stink. And even if I don’t, that other guy probably does, and I don’t want to share water with him.

So I washed.

Then I went into the first pool. It’s plain scalding hot water that just kind of boils me alive.

After a minute or two, if you don’t die from shock, you’ll start to relax and it feels really good.

Then before I could see the Tunnel of Light, I got out and moved to the next bath. This one is slightly less scalding than the first one, but it’s still really hot. But this bath is better, because it has bubbles in it. And by bubbles, I mean lots and lots of bubbles. It feels really good, sort of like being in a soft drink someone left sitting in the car in the middle of summer. And now since I’m used to being scalded, it’s not so bad.

The next pool is a little evil, but it was awesome in its own right. It’s a small pool full of ice cold water.

Here’s where I commit my major bath faux pas.

I plunged in like a dork. Then I jumped right out when I realized that apparently you’re only supposed to scoop the water out over you, not dive in. Oops. I felt kind of bad about that. Oh well, making mistakes is part of being human.

Embarrassment aside, the cold water felt good, because this hotel also doesn’t have its A/C running anymore.

The last pool is actually sort of like a pool. It’s deep enough where you can walk around in it, and the water comes up to mid-chest on a tall guy. This one isn’t so cold, but it just feels good.

Then into the sauna! Freaking insanely HOT sauna. What’s that smoke you’re smelling? That’s probably you. You might want to do something about that. You’re starting to render. The Japanese guy who was showing me the ropes just laughed at me. I lasted 3 minutes tops in there. I went back to the various pools for a while, then got out.

And don’t forget to bring change, because the machine outside sells cold drinks. (I forgot.) Then again, where would I put it in my yukata? (Yukatas are nice, too. Very comfortable. Sort of a plain cotton bathrobe thing.)

I could also tell you about the lady coming out of the baths that I held the elevator door open for. When she saw a big goofy foreigner, I think it really threw her off. She thanked me for holding the door open, then promptly went to her corner of the elevator to stare at the … well … corner.

Being a foreigner here is fun sometimes, but I can see how that might get old after a while.

After this, I don’t see the need to go to Beppu. They only have pools of really scalding hot water, and I’ve already done that. It’s nice, but not travel-for-3-hours-each-way nice. I’ll either add another night in Hiroshima or Osaka.

Anyway, I’m done with Nara for now, so it’s on to Hiroshima.

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