19 May 2006

"Some Like It Hot (Springs)" --A Tokyo Tintin Oriental Report


The other day, I went with my friend Scouser Ste to Ōedo Onsen –a hot spring in the futuristic Tokyo Bay area.

Now, you may or may not know that Japanese people love hot springs –and with good reason too. They’re pretty freakin’ fantastic! They are soooo relaxing. Now what, you may say, is relaxing about hanging out naked in a pool of boiling water with a bunch of other naked people? Well, the first time I ever went to an onsen (in a remote village south-west of Tokyo on holiday with Jase), I was pretty skeptical about the whole thing. As we were paying to get in, I became mildly alarmed. Then as we were getting undressed; rather panicked. As we went from the change-room to the onsen-room; wholly embarrassed. Then, about ten seconds later,.. everything became perfectly normal. I mean, it’s pretty hard to be embarrassed about being naked when everyone else is naked too, right?

I know some of my dear readers become despondent at the thought of even a swimsuit, much less the full monty. But really, hang-ups like that are just silly –especially when you consider that nine out of ten people are flabbier, wrinklier and harrier than you, whilst you are young and vivacious. I recommend anyone with said hang-ups to visit an onsen post haste to cure themselves, as I did, in less than a minute. Next stop: Hanlan’s Point –haha.

Onsens are Oji-san (old man) Central, so the whole thing is rather un-sexy in case you were wondering. Just hanging out, relaxing in pools of varying levels of hotness, letting time slide by.

The Ōedo Onsen is particularly nice because you get a lovely yukata (cotton kimono) to wear around the common area, which is done up like a turn-of-the-century Tokyo street market. You get a microchip bracelet that you use to pay for everything like food, beer and souvenirs, which made me feel very futuristic. All in all, at top-notch time! Thanks Scouser Ste.

12 comments:

Miss Ash said...

I could not get myself to visit any of those types of places. When i was staying with Jay they had a Sento close by and he thought i should go for the experience. I would rather have died.

As well at the hostel in Nara the bathroom had the same type of set up with the faucets and a single large bath for everyone to hop into sans clothes. I must not have bathed that day.

tokyo tintin said...

MA-- oh, but only if you had gone! now you'd be prancing around all over the place, naked as a jaybird, and totally loving it!

you missed out on your chance!

jase said...

Sweetie, that red yukata is to die for!! I was gonna ask if you nicked it but then the idea of wearing a garment that has glimpsed many a salari-mans' testicles suddenly seemed not so hot. Also, I can't believe you went to the onsen with Ste! The idea of seeing him naked totally just made me throw up a little in my mouth:( BTW, Ste, if you're reading...love your work, tiger.

Princess Pessimism said...

I was also wondering if you took the yukata *look at me with the japanese*...Its really nice...and yes, I agree, other peoples testicles did touch it...but if drycleaning it, twice, might help ease your discomfort....I suggest stealing. LOVE IT.

tokyo tintin said...

i did not keep the yukata. while indeed nice-looking, it was actually i bit flimsy (as far as cotton robes go). i guess all those thousands of testicles just wore the cloth down eventually. what a shame!

jase said...

Princess Pessimism, YOU are a woman after my own heart!
Dan, though it may have been thin you could've always added it to the vast pile of omiyage we snaffled from every onsen and hotel we ever visited. I think those yukata we acquired in Shimoda had seen their fair share of balls too, come to think of it...

tokyo tintin said...

jase-- i acutally didn't think of it in terms of the morality of stealing a yukata (no problems in that department obviously). the thing really was so thin as to made out of a single layer of cotton molecules held together with isotopic glue. i guess all those j-balls eventually wore it down.

admitedly, i'm not quite the magpie you are on this front --taking that hideous robe from the tokyo disney hilton. man, that thing was uuuuh-gly! you're still wearing it ne?

Jennifer said...

TT,
I'm in love with the red yukata, I should have bought more when I was there. If you are thinking ahead to my birthday before you leave, I'd like another one. But I want another big one, from the basement of that store where the tourists buy theirs, this time with a big bold pattern.
I'm with Ash on the public nudity front. I absolutely assure you that if it was me and a group of naked Japanese women, I would be the hairiest and the flabbiest, and not being the oldest is no comfort when you are the hairiest and the flabbiest. I stayed in those Ryokans only one night at a time and alternated with the business hotel so that I could bathe every other day, just to avoid the nudity. In gym class in high school I became the Hudini of changing without being naked. I always had an ear infection on pool day... I will not be naked in public. No how no way.
And now I want to see the ugly Disney Yukata, please post photos.

Jennifer said...

Also, I find it hard to believe that 9 out of 10 Japanese people are hairier than you. While I applaud your lack of hang-ups.

tokyo tintin said...

jenni-- while you're right, i am harrier than most japanese people (they being slippery eels of a race for the most part), i was speaking generally. jenni, there's no way you're harrier than say, a bulgarian, or, i dunno, judi dench.

anyhow, as freaked out as you are now, i really think if you'd just gone through with it and got your kit off, you'd feel a whole lot better about the whole situation now.

i'll see if i can hunt down a pic of that hilton robe -- though it should really tell you something that it was so ugly that i didn't even want to take it!

Jennifer said...

Dude, what are the chances that 8 Bulgarians and Judi Dench would happen to be in Japan and at the same Onsen at the same time as me?

tokyo tintin said...

i'd say that conditions are favourable for a conjunction of eight bulgarians with judi dench, as saturn, the planet of onsens, mineral baths and sea vents, is in retrograde through capricorn's third house of nudity and self-awarness.