Japan Day 3: Onsen and Sushi



Yesterday was a bit more excitement than I was hoping for. Today Miriam and I tried to plan a calmer day. She made sure I ate breakfast (a great host!), I had tea and a kind of rice cake. It wasn’t as good as the mochi, it was kind of plain, but not bad. She let me borrow a pair of her boots (that were a few sizes too big) because my Vibrams were frozen. Then we headed to an onsen! I was so excited. Relaxing in a hot spring sounded like the perfect thing to counter yesterday. The idea of stripping naked in front of a few dozen strangers was terrifying, but if everyone else could do it, so could I.

The initial bathing wasn’t so bad. Everyone was on little stools in their own little showering area. I could handle that. Plus the shampoo smelled great. We walked around until we found a spots to sit down. This was an amazing experience. Sure, I stood out like a sore thumb, with us being the only non-Japanese women there, but no one seemed to care. Some women kept to themselves and relaxed. Some women hung around in groups and chit chatted. I loved being a part of this culture. There were hot springs inside and outside this onsen. The outside ones were particularly beautiful with the newly fallen snow.

I could feel the heat from the water permeating through my entire body. They say that the springs have minerals that are supposed to detox your body. I don’t know if it’s true, but I could feel stress being pulled away from my bones.

After a short period of time I felt something else. Extremely light headed and dizzy. I asked Miriam if she minded if we went inside for a bit. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it that far. While walking from the outside springs to the inside of the onsen I passed out. In the middle of the doorway. Naked.

It’s happened to me twice before. I started to lose my hearing, things went black, and I tried to sit down gracefully instead of collapsing. The next thing I remember was Miriam, and a few Japanese ladies hovering over me checking to see if I was still alive. It took me a few minutes to get up. A women brought me a full size towel. (Thank God I didn’t have to walk around naked anymore.) I drank some water and fought the urge to get sick all over the place. After I didn’t feel like dying, we went downstairs to the restaurant for lunch. Eating was the last thing I wanted to do, but I knew it would help me feel better.

Miriam takes a dance class here, and while I thought it would be an awesome thing to experience, I just wasn’t feeling up to going with her today. I instead, hung around the area, and did what I do best. Went shopping. I found an awesome “All Natural” (I don’t know what that means in Japan, if it’s unregulated like it is in the US) beauty store, and bought some makeup. It was attached to a clothing store and I bought some shirts and a pair of dress socks. I adore the way the Japanese dress. Everyone looks so polished 100% of the time, where I look like a tired, sore, American homeless lady, who is carrying all of her belongings in an overstuffed back pack. Anyway, I bought the dress socks as a baby step for me being more fashionable.  Right before I met Miriam, I found a beautiful black lace dress for about $14.

We went to dinner at a little hole in the wall sushi place. This is what I’ve been waiting for this whole trip. There was bar like seating with the chef in the middle, making the sushi and placing it on a conveyor belt that went around the room. Each plate of sushi was ~$1.36, it was fresh, and it was delicious. I got a salad and several plates of sushi for about $10. They had matcha tea, and I learned it’s free in most restaurants. Why is it so expensive in the States?

After dinner we looked for a pair of sneakers for me. I ended up with a pair of Nike’s for about $50.

We got a bottle of rice wine on the way home, but it was too sweet for me.

Another day done, and I’m grateful to be alive.

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