My boss and her husband have a boat docked at a port on the peninsula about an hour or more away from Toyokawa, and she likes to invites some of the students and families to meet us out there for a beach day and go out for rides on the boat which they all love…
Anyways, the drive out there wasn’t too bad, its a pretty small road and kind of out in the country. It’s a pretty area, very green and lush with some great views, but it’s very isolated without many stores or restaurants or gas stations even. Reminded me of Hawaii way back in the day… including my camera fogging up after sticking it out the window to take pics!
And so the afternoon passed relatively quickly despite the heat – thankfully, we were able to cool off and swim in the ocean since it wasn’t quite jellyfish season.
Now if you’ll take notice of the the big white building in the picture above… yes, I’ll wait while you scroll back up… it’s a hotel/resort. It doesn’t look like so much from the outside except that you can see it has tons of windows and a very nice view of the bay. Somehow, while I was rinsing the salt and sand off of me, the “others” decided that they wanted to go to the bath at the hotel. When I say bath, I mean the ritual of cleaning and bathing in public, something completely foreign to most foreigners. I don’t know what you may have heard regarding Japanese and their public baths, hot springs or even daily bathing at home, but it still seems strange to me that a culture who cover up from head to toe while in public, in the sun, on a bike and in the car, want to get naked and bathe together. Seems slightly contrary to me.
Theresa and I were slightly concerned about going to a bath with a whole bunch of slim Japanese women and their kids, many of whom are our students and above the age of 3. We were assured that we would be able to wear our bathing suits and thus cover up most of our tattoos which are verboten (forbidden) in an bath or onsen (hot spring).
We get up to the 4th floor after paying a modest fee, to see everyone start to undress – to be clear, the men went off in one direction and the women and kids to another, much like the dressing rooms at a gym – Theresa and I looked at each with just a little panic while she asked if we had to get completely undressed. “Oh yes” came the reply.
Holy Bath Water Batman!! We don’t want to get naked in public!
Our compromise was that we used our towels, really small towels that barely covered the important bits, inside the bath room. The Japanese women only took in handtowel/washclothes to assist in scrubbing themselves and the kids before getting in the water. Actually, you have to scrub yourself with soap and wash your hair before you are “clean” enough to get in the baths. This particular bath was about 1000 degrees with a much smaller one that must have been like straight from the glaciers (that don’t exist in Japan) – neither one was really a comfortable temperature, so I spent the whole 12.5 minutes post-shower walking from one to the other dipping my toes in and eventually freezing my legs off in the little one. Oh yah, that was relaxing, and despite the scrubbing , I didn’t exactly feel clean, more like slightly violated in my American-puritanical-code-of-modest-conduct-even-though-I-was-the-one-showing-the-most-skin-at-the-beach. I’ll chalk it up to it was an adventure…albeit one that I don’t necessarily need to try again!