Monday, November 26, 2007

Go Soak Your ... Head

Another random remark, another memory.

We were camping up in the mountains with the Rising Sons, the Japanese-American Harley group MyLarry rode with. Except they knew him as Howard because "Larry" just doesn't work in Japanese phonetics. We'd taken the van (long story) instead of my bike (longer story), so I was already a bit miffed. The weather was less than ideal and the tent sites were on platforms on the side of an extremely steep and muddy hillside. Knowing that Larry couldn't eat standard fare because of the nightshade thing (I was still okay), we'd brought our own eats. There had already been drama between our Shiba-ken and the Siberian Husky, and Larry "acquiring" a log footbridge, and so on. Then they sent some poor sap to our tent to collect the Y7,500 for the trip. I went over the edge. This was supposed to be Larry's farewell, and we weren't eating in the community kitchen, although I was perfectly willing to pitch in for the camp fees. I ponied up, grumbling. I knew the boys would be glad to see me go, I was not a docile wife. Their girlfriends were learning far too many bad habits from me, beginning with independence. The Sons saved the situation be gifting the money back to Larry at the bonfire later that evening. Riiiight.

The next morning, we got to use the hot springs. Sometimes these are co-ed, but this one was segregated. I went in and bathed in the shower area indoors, lovely pebbled floor and cedar bath stools and mats. The soaking pool was outdoors, it was crafted to look like it was surrounded by natural boulders and wild bamboo stands. You can bet every rock and leaf and pebble was carefully and artfully placed. Nature in Japan bows to the will of the artist.

There were two women in the pool, a mother and daughter I think. They were laughing and sitting on the jacuzzi jets along the inside edge of the pool. Riiiight. I sat along the boulders and closed my eyes. A light, cold rain was falling, but I was up to my neck in extremely hot water so I didn't care. Soon the ladies left and I had the place to myself. The view was stunning, the pool was on the side of a steep hill overlooking the valley. The pine trees were dark against the white fog, I knew there was a river in the bottom but I couldn't see it. The mountains and hills went up into the clouds, even though I knew they weren't all that tall, they seemed to go up forever. Absolutely gorgeous.

And yes, I tried out the jacuzzi jets, and yes, they made me giggle. No, of course I was not wearing a suit and did you even have to ask?

I miss my Japanese tub, as small and cramped as it was, I could soak like I did in the hot spring. I miss Japan a lot, although so much must have changed, a lot of things must be the same. The community family-style onsen are almost all gone. I'm sure the famous resort-style Roten-buro are still around and will be for a very long time.

I have so got to get a hot tub or sauna. No gazebo for me, I like the snow in my hair while soaking in the hot water.

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