Natalie Goes to Japan

40 year old very married blonde woman having a midlife crisis who heads to Japan alone to follow her dreams. Be careful what you wish for ... you just may get it.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Hoighty-Toighty Sento

Last night the Suzukis and I tried the new sento (public bath) in town. And boy what an experience. Mikio had prepared me for the fact that it was a touch more expensive than your average 4 times as much! And Yoko and I decided to spluge and get the "Extended Package" which allowed us entrance up into the second level. Thank Gods that I hadn't attempted this place alone, because it was so complicated that even the Suzukis were confused sometimes. First we had to pick up our totebags at the front counter. Inside each totebag was a big towel, a little towel and a set of lounging clothes. Yoko and I had to pick up 2 bags each, as the special pajamas in the second bag was our entrance to the second level. So first you "sento" as usual. You sit on a little stool in front of an individaul sprayer, doing all your normal ablutions like soaping and shampooing, conditioning, repeat, etc, until you are clean enough to enter the bathtubs. All the pools have digital readouts so you know the temperature of the water within. I started with the long shallow, lounge-chair type pool with the jet bubbles, then moved to the big pool with the big bubbles, then we went outside and sat in the wood pool, then to the sulpher water caldrons (they look like giant cooking pots and smell like rotten eggs), and then to the superhot pool, then back inside to the carbonated pool (really!), and then a quick walk through the walking pool (much deeper and less warm). After that we changed into the special uniform and went upstairs. I really didn't know what to expect, but I was game to try everything. First we went into this aromatherapy room, which was quite warm (41c), where you spread your towel on the heated flooring and lie down and absorb all the healthiness of it. Yoko was sweating up a storm after we left after 10 minutes, so we went into the snow room. What a disappointment. The snow only falls in a small 2 foot circle over a giant pile that has accumulated, so you don't actually get snowed on. But the room did cool us down a bit. Then we went into the salt room. There it was even warmer (58c) and you lie your towel over salt the size and shape of that stone people use in their front yards when they don't want to bother cutting grass. Very weird. I think we only stayed five minutes in this room. Followed by another quick trip to the snow room. Then we attempted the bamboo charcoal room, where the temperature was 70c. We only stayed about 3 minutes here before returning to the snow room. Next was what I refer to as the Easy Bake Oven Room. There are individual long brick ovens you lie down in and turn on the big red light. Some sort of light therapy I guess. Then we went outside to the patio to cool off, but as it was windy we didn't stay long. Then we grabbed Grapefruite-Ade from the juice bar and put our feet in a pool of blue warmed rock marbles and watched some tv while sipped our juice. Finally we went back down stairs to bathe again. I don't think I'd bother going back again, but I had a wonderful once in a lifetime experience


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