It's amazing how feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, and bad luck can melt away simply by immersing yourself in a tub of hot water. Today I locked up my work clothes and lingering bad mood in locker number 22111, donned a too-tight rented bathing suit and padded out to the outdoor communal onsen bath (an onsen, for those who don't know, is a Japanese bath). This particular bath is located in Futako Tamagawa and is most unusual. My dear Makoto spent a good 15 minutes trying to explain to me that, yes, you CAN wear your bathing suit in this onsen. At most traditional onsens you must remove every stitch of clothing and scrub yourself silly before you dare setting foot in its mineral goodness. After the bathing suit thing finally clicked it was easy for me to sink into the bubbly waters with my good friends Makoto, Aki, and Sakurai.. all men. Onsen with men! It was a first for me but my breath-denying bathing suit covered me up modestly. I couldn't help but feel a little jealous of Aki, stretched out like a Greek sleeping satyr along side of the bath without having to contend with constricting nylon gathering in folds of skin and squishing out the not so firm bits. To put it not so poetically.. getting older sucks.. take notes my fresh faced 15 year olds. Anyway, this isn't what I meant to share. Did I mention that you could drink beer in the baths?!? pure bliss after a day of correcting English grammar.
After the communal outdoor bath, I wandered inside to take part in the more traditional onsen. I washed and then sunk into the steaming water... my skin wrinkled up like a pickled plum (ume boshi). I rejoined the boys downstairs for some more beer and snacks and then I took a little nap on the softest couch ever. After Sakurai and Aki left, Makoto and I sat on the tatami mats and smiled at a little baby boy who was flirting with us. Our mutual amusement had a lasting impression on my mood and I felt like I was exactly where the universe intended me to be. When we finally got up to leave the little babe, who was being diapered by a patient mommy, let out a gleeful shreik in our direction... what a marvelous little creature!
Makoto and I, slightly buzzed and hungry for real food, decided that a trip to Futako Tamagawa wasn't complete without a visit to Midori Sushi. We waited about 30 minutes but it was worth it. The toro (fatty tuna) was incredible and I didn't even wince when I ate the uni (sea urchin). I'll be paying both the onsen and Midori atleast two more visits when Kim and Kerry come to Japan in September.
5 days ago