Onsen queens and vintage shops, an evening of pure delight! Christy, Sanomi, Jaqui and I take a traditional Japanese night after work. Grabbing a ‘Freshness Burger’ hitting some 100yen shops and visiting vintage clothes shops (which are packed with amazing little gems).
The system in the clothes shop is very clever, each item has a price tag with a picture of a fruit, the fruit corresponds to a large label pricing list. Each Wednesday the chart is flipped and the prices go down, so quick turn over means plenty of opportunities for great buys! Marc Jacob found me, he is brown and lovely, a bag that fits my work stuff so I justified the price (which was little considering his condition and social status) with the fact I will use him every day. Marc was a result of my first Japanese pay check! We are now greatest of friends!
Following this great shopping bliss was quite possibly my favourite thing about Japan so far, the Onsen baths i.e naked asian heaven! The one we went to is part of a chain called ‘‘Goku-raku-yu’ (click to see some swav pics). I’d heard lots about how great these were but still did not expect this greatness! I will explain step by step to try and capture the memorable experience! You enter the building (remove your shoes of course) and go to a ticket machine like the ones in train station, buy your ticket for 390 (under 4euro) and enter the ladies section! And then you see lots and lots of naked ladies…..and the lots and lots of naked ladies staring lots at the foreigners! You put your stuff in a locker once you’ve stripped, you can bring a ‘modesty towel’to cover your bits and of course your onsen basket. The onsen basket is something that I’m told you need to sort yourself out with if you are going to become an Onsen queen bee! It’s a small plastic basket with shampoo, conditioner, razor, face creams, foot scrubs, toothbrush and the list can go on. So first you sit down in a little area on a stool (its all a wet area now) with your mirror in front and your shower hose/taps. The stools are known as ‘one million butt stools’, as lots of naked bums have been sitting on them!! Here you scrub yourself to death, I’ve really never felt so clean. Some peeking Japanese ladies is all that will distract you from your joys. The Onsen is for all shapes and sizes. Lots of fat ladies scrubbing there extreme rolls (who knew there were fat Japanese?) and teeny tiny ones that I could fit in my hand. They are all ages from newborns to old age grey heads wandering around with everything hanging about! You can shave and everything in these areas and spend as long or as little time as you want, just so long as your well clean before the baths. Next you make your way around the various baths (and keep your hair tied up and out of the water), both outside and inside. We started outside in the large pond area, then the Chinese herbal tea bath (this one changes everyday, could be tea or herbs or rubber ducks), then my favourite, the personal baths which are pretty much huge flower pots of hot water that you sink and slide into. We made our way back indoors then which has a cold freezing pool, a sauna, Jacuzzi, extremely hot (too hot) bath and a bath that has electric currents running through it. The last I did not venture to as it does not sound enjoyable in the slightest and I am not a fan of the electric shocks as it is, never mind through water. Crazy people frying themselves in it! In between baths you can re-scrub yourself, we worked hard on our flaky feet! Now your job is done you are the cleanest mama in town, not to mention seriously relaxed, peace out.
Don’t forget lots of water afterwards and straight to bed! (Unfortunatly I actually had a sweaty 30minute uphill cycle, but this didn’t take away the lovelyness at all) I look forward to chilling out in these amazing places for hours on end during the winter, where getting warm to the bone will be a godsend. They say they are amazing in winter outside when you’re in the bath the snow falls all around you. I also found some great wooly undergarments in Uniqlo which I cannot wait to own!