Are you ready to follow me through Japan? Yes? Good. Let’s go!
A war of colours were fighting for the attention through my bus window. The fall had kissed the mountains and the nature had put on its most glamorous gown. A beautiful river was the little extra that made the gown perfect; Orange and red was reflected in liquid turquoise, just like a polished diamond dancing under the earlobes of its ginger Cinderella. I don’t think it will ever be possible to recreate such fashionable beauty.
The Takaeagawa Onsen has been on my bucket list for a long time. Guess what! I got an invitation to stay at their amazing Onsen. An Onsen is an area of hot springs and the bathing facilities around it. This is probably one of the most Japanese experiences you could ever have. When I heard of these hot springs the first thing that popped into my head was bathing monkeys. We have all seen those incredible photos of monkeys enjoying a hot spring with ice hanging from their furry heads. The adorable grooming ritual happening between two monkeys is replicated in us humans. The monkey will carefully look through the icy head of its friend, whilst the friend lets it’s eyes sink into the warm water. Toby and I were no different. Luckily my hair had less lice so Toby didn’t have to eat anything from my head, but the redheaded monkey let its eyes disappear under the hot surface. A foggy reality of knowing the winter is coming evaporated up with the steaming damp. For a proper Norwegian one of the cosiest moments in life is when your window has let in a snowstorm during your sleep. Despite the cooling snow layer on top of your duvet you feel safe and warm in the cave of your bed. I think this feeling can be experienced too by letting yourself be swallowed by an Onsen. Give it a try.
This place was… Amazing! During my stay in Japan this was the very first time I felt that there was no foreign culture polluting the Japanese atmosphere. Everything was done the traditional Japanese way, and man, this is the right way! I have never been so foreign from a culture and at the same time wanting more badly to be part of this culture. I really admire their respect and awareness for appreciating the nakedness, whether it is the human body or just the purity of a forest. Nudity combined with nature is the most natural combination, which is of course made a lot easier with a tempting hot bath under a cold starry night. From my experience the northern part of Asia has a lot more relaxed relationship with nudity compared to what we Northern Europeans are used to. Something that interests me is despite the conservative Japanese mindset there is this different way of tolerating nudity among a bigger group of people. There is no sexuality aspect around it, it is just about fully embracing the nature. In the mixed baths there are however a more ‘covered option’ available for the new beginners. Women can wear this sort of mini dress, and men can cover their main asset with a miniature cloth. Toby was uncomfortably comfortable with the fact that he did not even cover a third of his.
Bears in cages, extravagant Japanese meals, kimono clothing, futon (japanese floor bed), deadly water stream, magical fall presentation; it all came together as an unforgettable memory. I’m speechless, and that doesn’t happen often!
Quote Of The Day:
“I am sure there are things that can’t be cured by a good bath but I can’t think of one”
– Sylvia Plath