Monday, February 2, 2009
Culturally Acceptable Skinny Dipping
When you think 'Japan', depending on who you are, you probably think sumo, samurai, hentai (*cough*), sushi etc. After actually getting here I added Onsen to my list of all things Japanese.
Onsen's (温泉）are hot spring baths and there are thousands of them all around the country! While they come in all varieties and sizes ranging from sulphur pools to green tea onsens, the basic ones have just plain steaming hot water.
The catch?...and the one thing that was probably the biggest culture shock for me was the fact that it was a bath of hot water that has to be shared with strangers...naked.
While it came highly recommended by friends for its relaxing qualities, the fear of being a dark-skinned foreigner of different proportions naked amongst homogeneous Japanese females kept me away from trying out said onsen till the trip up to Nagano over the Winter Holidays.
So, I finally shed my inhibitions and took the proverbial plunge. Luckily, the one other stranger at the onsen was leaving as we got there and so I only had to share the onsen with Ears who has become somewhat a soul-sister in these 5months. All in all it was an interesting experience. Temperatures outside the onsen were close to -10 so there was a lot of screaming when trying to get in and out.
But the beauty of the experience was the fact that it was an outdoor onsen overlooking some lovely snow covered hills AND we got to see a beautiful sunset!
The onsen itself might take a bit of getting used to because the temperatures are so high that if you stay in too long or get up too fast you feel lightheaded.
Next stop...trying out the indoor onsen near my dorm...and even more daring...a mixed (as in mixed gender) onsen at least once before I leave this country.
Yes, I have serious thrill seeking issues!