Into the Onsen
Although Concordia has its own sauna on campus, Japan has many public bathes and hot springs, called onsen, available for its citizens to enjoy. This past weekend I was able to enjoy the hot springs with Josh and his neighbors, Otou-san and Okaa-san (father and mother, respectively), a lovely older couple that has shown us kindness and generosity beyond anything we could have ever expected.
The onsen is separated by gender, and so male and female parted ways for the next two hours to enjoy the steamy bathes. I have never had any experience in hot springs or saunas, but I had been warned that the onsen did not require swimming garments. After showering ourselves off, we entered the interior bathes, each pool set at various temperatures and equipped with rolling jets, bubblers, etc. It was so cool! Women were sitting lazily around the edges, chatting occasionally. Okaa-san showed me where the sauna was, a larger-than-expected room with a large TV at the front, on which a Japanese soap opera was playing.
The best part was the outdoor part of the onsen, where various hot bathes were shaded by roof but provided ample view of the forest just outside the perimeter. It was nice to cool off after the heat from the bathes. Some of them were aromatic, some set with more jets to massage legs and backs. It was a great way to relax away the afternoon.
(Because we were at the hot springs, I was not allowed to take photos. For obvious reasons.)