Friday, December 23, 2016

japan 4: bathing in the onsen

So when the girls and I entered the onsen, a naked lady who was alone in the pool gave a little squeal when she saw us and clutched a tiny towel to her body before scuttling out.

We really wouldn’t have minded sharing.

But it was nice that after peeling off all of our clothes (the girls had no reservations when they saw I had none) and showering, we had the whole onsen to ourselves for the next 20 minutes or so, when we floated in the steaming hot water.

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* Disrobing, changing, dressing area

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* The showers

Lu and I were quick to immerse ourselves, Jo took a good five minutes to go from toe to neck, but as the minutes passed it became obvious that the onsen was having a definite effect. “Mama, I’m feeling very dozy,” said Jo, who up until then knew nothing about onsens. “Ya I’m sleepy,” Lu chimed in agreement.

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* The indoor pool, it was all steamy in the enclosed room

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* The view from the outdoor pool

After soaking in both indoor and outdoor pools, we languidly put on our kimonos and, feeling warm to the core, drunkenly lurched our way up to our room where the girls, pink all over like slightly-boiled salmon, collapsed on their beds. The girls liked it so much they wanted to wake up at 6am the next morning to enjoy the onsen before we had to check out and catch the train back to Tokyo. (they didn't)

The hot spring was fortuitously part of the little traditional Japanese inn we were staying in at Yuzawa, Otowoya Ryokan.

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* The ryokan on a snowy night

There were four pools: An indoor and outdoor for the men, a separate pair for the women.

The onsens were the perfect finishing touch on the ryokan experience, which from what I gather is the whole sleeping-on-tatami, wearing of kimonos and eating of kaiseki meal. It was Wow Wow Wow all the way. I'm glad we got to try it.

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* The entrance where we are to leave our (wet) shoes and change to slippers

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* Room by night, five mattresses replacing the table all laid out. KK working away in the corner on his laptop

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* Private dining rooms

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* A dinner

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* One morning's breakfast

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* In-room wrestling

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