Even though I wrote about spring last week, I’m basing my topic this week on a ski trip I went with some teachers last month. I want to specifically write about groups and comfort. From my experiences in Japan, people of the same gender definitely share a great deal of comfort being in the same group. Maybe some people might think I’m a little cold, because I want my distance. Well, people here also wouldn’t just touch complete strangers with ease. Of course there are boundaries even if a group of friends is involved.
As some of you might know, there are a lot of hot springs and spas in Japan. Some of them are natural with a resort built around them, and some of them are artificial. In the ski resort, there's an artificial spa. In many of spas, men and women have separate baths. I don’t really know too much about hot springs in Japan. However, if there was a coed place kept in secret, it would only mean a shady business. There are a bunch of shady places in Japan (just like many other countries) that I read about in the newspaper. I might write about them in another post. Anyway, I digress. Getting back on topic, I went to the spa/bath area with the other male teachers as this was the only place to bathe. When I first walked past the spa sign, I had to put my slippers in a cubby. We proceeded to walk through the door into the outer room where there were more cubbies for personal items including towels. Everyone casually stripped naked and put their things in the cubbies. The only thing I noticed the other teachers take into the inner room (bathing area) was a small face towel. At this point, I was very uncomfortable. In America, I always hated community showers. If I had to deal with a community shower in the past, I would wait and take a shower during the off-hours. Being in this situation was rather uncomfortable for me, but I needed to bathe somehow and the spa was only open for a few hours at night. I also thought that this would be an interesting experience to see how this spa was arranged.
I was the last to enter the inner room with my face towel in hand to cover my "delicate moose." I decided just to follow what the other people were doing. First, most of them were washing themselves with soap and shampoo. If you think it’s just like a community shower in America, it’s not. The showers are rather low, so each guy takes a stool and a bucket to sit at one of the shower stations fully equipped with a mirror. How much vainer can guys get now that we can watch ourselves bathe? Of course I jest. If you are wondering what the bucket is for, it’s to douse yourself with the water that fills up after applying soap. These stations lined the perimeter of the room. There were also two large tubs in the middle. You may have already guessed what comes after washing. A lot of the other guys were having lots of fun running around and eventually jumping into either of the two tubs.
I chose the least crowded of the two. The water was very hot, yet it was relaxing. I was still a little uncomfortable, but I was trying my hardest to relax in the therapeutic water. Before I knew it, I was out of the tub rinsing myself so that I could go to the outer room. I dried myself with my towel and stared only at my own things, all the while the other guys were all so casual and friendly.
FYI: people might wear some kind of towel to enter the water in some hot springs and spas, so it's not always nude. The spa in the ski resort wasn’t a hot spring, but it was definitely very soothing. Would I ever do something like this again? Well, I want to go to a natural hot spring, but I pooh-pooh birthday suits.
Stay tuned next week for another update!
Je me suis amusé quand je suis allé au ressort de ski. Nous sommes arrivés 16 février avant du midi. Je me suis excité parce que je n’avais skié jamais. Il était bon que j’ai appris le mois dernier parce que les profs de Mito me sont enseignés. Si j’avais skié en États-Unis, j’aurais appris d’un inconnu. Quand nous sommes partis, j’avais skié la route de pingouin (les noms de routes à ce ressort sont des noms d’animals). Je veux skier l’année prochaine. Je pense que après avoir appris de skier, je skierai meilleur la fois prochaine.
今週の聖書の詩: “Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling.”
- Acts 16:16 (NIV)
This was part of the passage that the pastor used today in his sermon at the church I’ve been attending in Japan. His message wasn’t exactly on this part, but he did strike an interest in me toward this verse. Why does this woman make so much money by telling fortunes? On New Year’s in Japan, a lot of people buy fortunes to see what the coming year brings. In America, people are highly invested in horoscopes and fortune tellers. In the world, there are many forms of fortune-telling.
The pastor pointed out the possibility of people afraid of the future and death. While this is nothing new, something bothered me. Why must we try to know everything? We are narcissistic beings. We feel that we are so important. Are we really important? I think maybe we are narcissistic, because we are trying to deny that we are unimportant. We want to feel important by accomplishing things for ourselves. Even for Christians, are you really giving credit to God? Do we really accomplish anything? Have we truly accomplished things? I think we just manipulate what ALREADY exists into things that lighten the workload that we GIVE OURSELVES. All of this is for what? Oh, that’s right. We want to believe that we are important.
今週の写真: These are pictures from the ski resort near or in Takayama. I’m not too sure. I know that the downtown of Takayama is about a thirty-minute drive from the resort with most of the travel being on the mountain road.
On the way to the ski resort
Spa entrance (men's side)