Thursday, September 08, 2005

TRIP MO?

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GETTING AWAY FROM IT ALL is always an exhilarating experience.One gets to relax, even for a day or two away from the hustle-bustle of everyday life.

MY FRIEND and I went on a trip at one scenic ONSEN [HOT SPRING] in a nearby Prefecture. The day started early, around 6 A.M. but the roads are already bustling with vehicles, mostly delivery trucks-the lifeline of this country. After a while, I noticed the change in scenery, with lots of golden acres of land stretching from one end to the other. The scenery speaks of abundant harvest anytime now.

AS WE approach the ONSEN, we were met at the main door by a group of women, all dressed in KIMONOs [JAPANESE DRESS] and they bowed deeply. We were ushered to our room after confirming our reservation for the day. THE ONSEN-HOTEL speaks of typical Japanese resort. It has rooms to stay and, of course, OFURO [HOT BATHS] . One is transformed into a traditional Japanese-style room, with KIMONOs for guests, and TATAMI MATS to booth.

SINCE THE BOTH OF US were starving, we decided to take our lunch first, before we dip into the hot bath. This lunch is not included in the tour-package, so we ate out. We found a nice resto nearby.

AFTER THAT WE TOOK A WALK at nearby souvenir shops and peeked at the array of tiny but beautiful curios for sale. I bought two for my friends in Manila.I also bought one for my personal collection.

GOING BACK to the ONSEN, we decided to take a dip. The owner [or is it the manager? I really have no idea and I did not bother to ask] explained the medical side of the hot spring: ..."contains natorium, blah-blah.."

NOW THIS ONE is different. While in PANSOL, we can take a dip with our clothes on, here one has to do it NAKED. HAH! Great!

SO I moved on to remove my clothes. As I am not used to going naked in public [Goodness!]it took a while before I was able to. I went to the place where low faucets and stools are and began to wash my body. This is something everyone MUST DO BEFORE TAKING A DIP AT THE OFURO [HOT BATH]. It is deemed unhealthy and improper to go straight to the OFURO. Other people might want to use them, too.

SO IMAGINE a conservative PINAY going naked in front of other women [thank God for separate OFUROs!] ...and it's taking me extra time to finally go out there! After hedging and covering everything I can with that small face towel, I reached the small pool! Wheew! I was relieved to find only two women in there. Paano na lang kung marami? Yayayay!

THE TYPICAL Japanese OFURO in ONSENs are quite big. It is like a small pool where everyone can join and take a relaxing dip while enjoying the natural scenery. Some ONSENs are located beside the sea; some in the North are found in the middle of the snow. Still others are located beside rivers, or atop a hill...in fact, ONSENs here are everywhere! Remember, this Land is said to be atop volcanoes, which makes it emit lots of gas, thus, hot springs. Some HOT SPRINGS in HAKONE boasts of hot water, so hot that it can boil eggs if you dip them for a few minutes.

BUT WHAT I look forward in every ONSENs are the FOOD they offer. DINNER is served exactly after taking a bath. The food is simply marvelous! The table before you is picture-perfect, with Japanese potteries and chinawares simply adorable! I always have that soft space in my heart for Japanese ceramics and potteries. Oh, I have a small collection which I brought back home in INANG BAYAN via my Balikbayan Box. I still collect good ones, if chance and funds permit.

WHILE WE WERE having dinner, the bed is being prepared. Typical FUTON [Japanese mattress] over the TATAMI MATS.

THE NEXT DAY, typical Japanese breakfast is served with Mizo Soup, and Grilled SAKANA [FISH] and rice is served.

AHHH...ONSEN! I REALLY ENJOY GOING TO ONE:

I like the food,

the scenery,

the beauty, and

the healthy dip in hot springs.....

.....except that I have to go through the rigors of going naked [again!]!

ONSEN, ANYONE?


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