Posts Tagged ‘Kobe’

Arima Onsen and Mata Ne, Japan

November 22, 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

It’s been an excellent two weeks and I fly home tomorrow. The flights start in the afternoon so I’ll have time for a leisurely breakfast and not much else. I get back to Boston at 5:00pm. Flying back in time, It will be quite a long day. I’m so excited to see the people I love and practice yoga again, but I’m also a little sad about leaving Japan. I’m just starting to “get it” and be comfortable here. Also, I really like Japanese culture.

wp_20161122_08_37_03_pro

Yesterday was a great day. I had a meeting in the morning that was so fun and successful. I met with two men from a real estate management company. The meeting lasted an hour and a half. We discussed the US election for a while, then the expatriate real estate market, then we talked about differences between culture in the US and Japan and talked a lot about toilets. The men were shocked we don’t have “shower toilets” in the United States. After that I visited two Sake breweries near the meeting and had lunch at one of them. I got some Sake to share on Thanksgiving, and then worked in the Sannomiya area. Dinner was linguini with shrimps and olive oil at the hotel, and a cocktail of plum wine and ginger ale.

wp_20161122_15_14_11_pro

This morning I finished work and had a lunch meeting. Then I took to the bus to Arima, outside the main city closer to the Rokko Mountains, to visit an onsen. An onsen is a Japanese public bath. Like shower toilets, plums, bowing, taking off shoes, and formal exchange of business cards, public baths are also a big deal in Japan. I’m so glad I went.

This is what happens in the public bath (for women) — take off your shoes, drop off your clothes, take a shower at one of the stations, clean off your station (and little chair), put up your hair so it doesn’t get in the bath, then go soak. This one in Arima is special because there’s a hot spring bath. They had a regular bath, a “white ion” bath with extra oxygen bubbles, a hot spring bath that was golden (brown), an open air area which is great because the hot water feels extra nice against the cold air, cold showers, and a sauna. There are no bathing suits allowed, everyone is naked but they separate the baths for men and women!

wp_20161121_16_28_58_pro

I stayed there a long time, relaxing, skinny dipping in the hot spring. It wasn’t crowded, just a few people. They have a changing area and very high tech massage chairs that squeeze your legs for after you get dressed. Reading about Onsen before the trip, someone wrote that it’s nice to take off what separates us (the clothing) and focus on what makes us the same. After the bath I felt very renewed. Soft from all the sauna and hot springs, and very happy about being a human and a woman! I think public baths are very good for community building. If you go to Japan I’d highly recommend this experience.

Hope you are well!

Love, Annie

Advertisements

Shin-Sunday and Kobe

November 20, 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

I have been thinking, maybe the emphasis on super toilets with bidets everywhere is connected to the quantity of plums Japanese people consume. Hm.

wp_20161120_16_37_15_pro

Today I woke up early, left the little guest house with the tatami mats, and took the Shinkansen to Kobe. “Shin” is in front of the name for the bullet train stations “Shin-Yokohama” “Shin-Kobe.” But you don’t have to put two in!*

The train was crowded but very easy, only 45 or so minutes ride with one stop in Osaka. I got a very involved bento box (sour plums included) at station to eat on the train for breakfast. It was satisfying but only okay tasting.

wp_20161120_16_21_30_pro

I left my luggage at the hotel and went to work. It’s sunday but I worked because I’d like to do some touristy things here like go to the onsen in the mountain hot springs and some sake breweries (there are many right in Kobe), but not on a weekend when it would be too crowded.

wp_20161120_16_28_21_pro

Work took me to Rokko Island, which had one of the weirdest vibes of a place I’ve ever visited. It was eerie, pretty open spaces yet deserted with dated architecture and of course supermarkets with imported food. The malls were only half full of stores. Apparently expatriates live here; I’ll find out more tomorrow.

wp_20161120_16_49_32_pro

I had a throbbing headache all day today and felt especially lonely on the train, but now I feel all better. I didn’t sleep well on the tatami mats and am pretty happy to be in a nice hotel for the last three days of the trip. Also I have an awesome view. I didn’t try Kobe beef yet but maybe for lunch tomorrow. Have a great Sunday!

Love, Annie

*It’s a dreidel joke.