Who’s been waiting to read the next installment of our Japan trip? I’m really enjoying writing about our trip one day at a time. It helps me relive the moments and kind of extends the trip in my mind. I think I did a fairly good job of keeping a mental travel journal. The next trip we go on I plan on having an actual journal to write in.
Day 3 started out much like day 2. The three of us (hubby, sis-in-law, and myself) had breakfast at the hotel. We met up with our friend shortly after. His family was going shopping and we were going to be adventurous! He took us a few blocks down to an onsen, or public bath house/hot springs. This was definitely an experience that anyone visiting Japan should try out. Basically, you get naked, wash yourself, and relax in one of many hot baths. There are separate areas for men and women and there were indoor and outdoor baths. Hubby said there was a sauna as well, but SIL and I had no one to guide us through so we were lost little ducklings.
There are a few important things to know when at an onsen:
First, you get nekkid! Everyone is nekkid, so you have to throw any body issues out the window. Embrace yo self! Believe me, I know it’s difficult. As if I wanted SIL and all the little old Asian ladies to see me in my big ol’ birthday suit. No. Not in America. That is not a part of our culture, but we weren’t in America so as I said before: when in Rome… Besides, we’ll never see those people again. I was not about to miss out on the experience over my personal insecurities. Going in, I knew hubby would have no qualms about it. He’s a free spirit and a guy so I figured he’d fit in (I was correct, he loved it.).
Second, no hair in the bath water! Oops. SIL and I didn’t know this little rule but there was a kind lady who quietly came over and informed us. So ladies (and gents with long hair) don’t forget to tie it up. Also, you have two towels: a regular towel to dry yourself off with after (leave that in your little locker with your clothes) and a smaller wash towel you use when cleaning yourself before getting in the bath. This second towel should not be in the bath either. You can leave it near you outside of the bath, or place it on top of your head. It also comes in handy if you want to cover your secret bits while walking around the bath area – as long as you’re small. Otherwise, you have to decide what you’re more comfortable exposing to the cold, cold air after getting out of the warm water.
Third, the baths have different temperatures and colors. That’s because different springs will have different temps and minerals. Us girls didn’t know so we only tried out two baths. One inside that seemed more like a hot tub and one outside. We were probably only in the water about 30 minutes or so before we got too warm and decided we were done. We probably should have cleaned and rinsed the minerals off us after but we didn’t.
The onsen pretty much set the mood for the day. It was a relaxing start to our Saturday. Sis and I waited for the guys at the eating area and found water to sip on. That’s another important tip: stay hydrated! Sitting in a hot bath for a while can make you really thirsty. When they were done we headed back to the hotel to grab our stuff since we were staying in another part of Tokyo for the rest of the trip. But not without a stop at our friend’s house! And a good ol’ cookout!
We all made the journey to the house and walked by a small bakery. I did not pass up the opportunity to try another pastry in Japan. I wasn’t sure what the etiquette was for buying items, so I just grabbed a bag of pre-wrapped donut holes? Yes, that’s a question mark because they looked like it but I dunno Japanese. There could be surprise banana for all I knew (or wished…)! Surprise banana – yea, that’s a thing now. Hmm. Maybe not. Before I get too off-topic…they were delicious! We continued onward and checked out the house.
Shortly after arriving we learned that a trip to the grocery store was called for. While I didn’t really want to go (so much walking), I tagged along because that meant more time spent with our friend. I mean, he was the reason we were there in the first place, so this little piggy sucked it up and went to market. The grocery store was cool. The meat section had ALL parts of the animals available. Maybe not all, but a lot more than you’d find at a typical American grocery store. Then there was the deli/freshly made food section…Oh my goodness. It smelled amazing and looked good! We knew it’d be a while before we got to eat so we gathered up some sushi and onigiri. After finishing up our shopping trip and getting back to the house we chowed down. Om nom nom.
I’ve never been one to try sushi – California rolls are my only adventure into that world. The thought of eating raw fish just never sat well with me. In America. But (repeat after me) when in Rome… I tried several different things. And I liked them all for the most part. Gosh, I’m hungry just thinking of all that rice. I love rice. We watched Japanese TV for a little bit after and headed downstairs to rejoin the family while the food was grilling. Drinks were poured and stories were told. Lots of drinks. It was a blast getting to know our friend’s family better. We even met his Japanese host dad from the time he had studied in Japan a few years before. We also enjoyed some ice cream and smores before we headed out. We still had about an hour of travel to get to our hotel so we kind of left in a rush so we could catch the train.
It was a long day, kind of like this blog post. After getting settled into our room, we all kind of passed out again… Goodnight, Day 3.