Chapter 39 The One With The Naked Public Bath

So I began my day in Kurama which is a beautiful mountain village about 30 mins train ride from Kyoto centre. I hiked up to a beautiful shrine through thick forest smelling the temple’s incense laden entrance before I saw it. Is was such a beautifully peaceful space and I sat for ages admiring my surroundings. When a leaf blower powered up nearby however I decided to hike back down and find my first ever onsen (Japanese public bath). A key part of Japanese culture, bathing in hot springs, doesn’t come without rules so I prepped myself before arriving. I first had to get a ticket and a small towel from a booth inside the onsen and then strolled up to the outdoor bath space making sure I followed the way for women only! Once I arrived I had to lock my shoes into a mini locker and proceed into the changing room where thank goodness I was greeted by another bather and literally copied her every move! First was the naked part so we stripped down and locked everything into big lockers and then strolled into an adjoining room where we sat on stools and had the pre bath wash. This part has to be super thorough as the main hot spring bath is for soaking and shouldn’t be contaminated in any way! I don’t think I’ve ever washed more throughly than in that moment, just to make sure I didn’t offend! Then you sploosh down your stool for the next person and then holding our little towels over us we walked outside and straight into the steaming bath ahead. It was perfectly warm and with the cold weather outside was incredibly welcome. As someone who is an avid shower over bath person I wasn’t sure what to expect but with the view around of mountain tops and stunningly thick forests half an hour passed without me even noticing. My fingers were beginning to wrinkle and soon the bath began to fill out with old Japanese ladies and the nakedness was as I had hoped so,eyeing everyone definitely overlooked. At this point I had been in there for an hour and even with occasional popping out to cool down felt it was time to head off! I grabbed my mountain train back into the centre and ventured out for lunch! 

Bento box at the ready I settled down to watch some baseball – i had no idea what I was watching or in fact what I was eating having gone for the daily ‘special’ box. Either way it was delish and set me up well for sightseeing in Kyotos city centre and for watching geishas trot around the streets. I picked up some intriguing Japanese cosmetics – will update on how they work out (em don’t worry I’ll bring some home if they are fab) and spent ages in the department store food courts! They rare like Selfridges times 1000000! As my diet is slowly becoming mostly white rice, deep fried meat and bakery items I decided to attempt some healthiness. I’m currently typing this having just made a tinfoil bento box of seaweed, nuts and cruditĂ©s with a banana on the side – are you proud mum? Hoping it will transform me into a glowing healthy Japanese lady (If i manage to avoid the koala biscuits for another day!)

(Photos; geishas/tourists dressed up near a shrine in the city center, the entrance curtain to the onsen, bento and baseball, the Kurama shrine view at the end of my morning hike!)



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