The Onsen Experience
I have returned from the Onsen today, having gone with a close friend of mine. WOW! AMAZING, SUGOI!!! We went to this place in Tokyo actually (most are located by natural hot springs...a bit outside of the city). The name is Oedo Onsen. So upon walking into this fabulously decorated establishment, we took our shoes and put them in a locker and took the key. Then we received our bracelets which had a number a barcode. The number was for the main locker and the barcode to keep track of all expenditures within the establishment. Next we received our rental Yukatas (Summer Kimonos - traditional Japanese dress)! We then walked into the main area and there were many different pictures on the wall, anime characters around and lanterns hanging, along with a slew of restaurants...it was like a theme park! This was new to my friend, who said he had never seen a place like this. We entered the bathroom changing area, removed our clothes and Yukatas (after taking many pictures of ourselves in the Yukatas) and explored the areas! There were all types of baths, so we tried the indoor ones and the outdoor ones! The indoor ones ranged from all different temperatures, super hot to super cold! We relaxed in the bubble bath one, and then headed to the micro-bubble bath, where some machine was producing this type of water and you could see the water appeared milky white. Then we had a shave and went to have lunch in the main area! We then relaxed a bit after lunch in this main room with tatami mats and headed up to the foot bath area! Unlike the baths, this area is not separated by gender, and everyone is fully clothed. You walk through these different pools about ankle to knee-high in depth which contain these smooth rocks which are laid out in different patterns on the bottom of these pools. I kept cringing and exclaiming "itai, itai!" meaing, "it hurts, painful!" haha, but it was interesting, and there was a sprinkler there too! Next we went up to the relaxation room! There we sat in superbly comfortable chairs and my buddy fell asleep! Some chairs even had television sets attached to them and you could also have paid for massage chairs! When I woke my friend up, we got some green tea ice cream downstairs and then we went back to the bath! We went to our favorite spot - the outside natural pool, hung out there for a bit before going in the super cold pool, the bubbly one and the sauna and another one or two. Then we went for real sit-down, traditional style Japanese showers, and grabbed a drink (milk for me, coffee for him). We finally gave back our yukatas and the dirty towels and gave our bracelets to the woman at the counter to scan. It is a very high-tech system, where every extra item you purchase such as food or souvenirs inside is added onto your "tab" which is held in the bar code of the bracelet and then you pay for it all at the end. (There is a receipt given for every additional purchase you make)...Oh and there is no time limit as to how long you stay either! It is 1980 yen to enter during the weekdays and 2180 yen during the weekends...either way about $25-$30 USD! This system pretty much eliminates error and the need for you to carry money around. I was very impressed...and then we got our shoes and left! It was a really wonderful bonding experience!!
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