Pictures, feelings and fictions from my summer trip in Japan.

lundi 9 avril 2012

Body - part 2, water.

I don’t like having baths.

I don’t fantasize on delicate perfumed candles in a lovely room, smooth lights and sweet towels, relaxing music and creamy white foam. Hollywood movie picture, perfect to be assassinated or raped by a maniac.

Loss of time, soaking  in warm water, trying to read a book without ruining it with drops, hearing the phone ringing in the other room – never mind , tempting to breath smoothly to relax at last, not so easy to do, and finally being bored and crumpled skinned in cool milky soaped water.
My bath is small, uncomfortable and old fashioned. Right. Doesn’t help to like baths.

When I was told about having many thermal baths in Japan, I get scared by the long hours in water while time would crawl, and already prepared excuses to do something else – walks or whatever.

I didn’t know ONSEN.

First you clean yourself carefully, from toes to hair, washing away all the sweat and dust and tiredness of the walking day, sited on a small stool. Frrtch, frrtch, have you ever been so concentrated on cleaning your skin before?
Quick look around - how long do the others wash themselves?  You don’t want to do less, they could think you’re not clean enough. Frrtch, frrtch, one more time is better to be sure.

Finally clean as never, you go through the place - don’t want to show you’re shy and lost, so you walk calmly and straight as a queen. First, a hot bath - body and brain relaxing, furtive look on the other women in water, is it some kind of approval in their eyes?  Then a very hot one - your skin get red and too hot soon , so you move to a copper bath - weird orange water but good for skin it says, passing by the electric one - forbidden to pacemaker users.

You get quickly used to go naked in the middle of other women. Old ladies, small and scraggy, strong mamas laughing with their friends, sometimes hiding their bellies. Young athletic woman, obsessed by her muscular body, cold look, cold looking. Girls, exhibiting proudly their young breasts and black pubis. Every kind of body goes naturally, every one feigning not to notice the other.

Bubbling bath – definitely good for butts massage, then dry sauna – hard to breathe in burning air, and finally the icy one – you’re a warrior, don’t show you’re freezing! The muscular one is there too, she looks like doing yoga breathing in cold water, unconcerned by you. Show off!

Another hot bath, body melts, a quick icy one, definitely reviving, and you go to the changing room, hardly believing that one hour and a half has already past!

 Body’s relaxed, your skin is soft, your head is light, your brain relieved, you’re feeling good. Ready to have a delicious dinner!

I still don’t like having baths. But I like ONSEN.

 First onsen, Funaoka in Kyoto. With its natural spring water outside. Icy one!

Kurama onsen, mountain, forest, birds and soft wind.

Onsen of the lodge in Yakushima, onsen in the woods. Mori no naka ni hadaka de.

Hirauchi hot natural spring and sea water. Onsen in the rocks. By night, under stars...

Onsen of Soyotei hotel. Cedar bath, copper bath, and sea view.

 Last onsen in Tokyo, Ooedo Onsen Monogatori, at Odaiba. Sort of attraction, built resemble the old city of Edo, you can eat ice creams, sobas, buy souvenirs and walk in fake old streets, dressed in colored yokatas.

Due to the character of the places, these pictures are not all mine. Thanks to internet sources.

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