Archive for the ‘sand bath’ Tag

Beppu: Buried alive in Takegawara Spa

 

bury me, bury me...

bury me, bury me...

 

Random Observation/Comment #67: Good Idea/Bad Idea.  Good Idea: Professionals preparing you for a sand bath.  Bad Idea: Anyone-else preparing you for a sand bath.  So that’s why you don’t try it at beaches.  Where’s my air hole?

Because pictures were forbidden in the spa area, I couldn’t actually snap color photos of how this sand bath deal is setup, but the black-white postcard shown above is actually a very good representation.  Because of this whole buried in sand option, Takegawara spa in Beppu turned out to be one of the cheapest and coolest spa experiences I had in Japan.

To get this detail out of the way, I need to mention that the old ladies preparing the sand baths are the fittest ladies in the town.  They have to shovel that sand non-stop.  They’re constantly digging graves and burying living people in a sauna (actually, that sounds like a pretty cool job description).  Beware of these ladies while you’re changing because they will just barge into all of the changing rooms unannounced visits from them in the male and female changing rooms.  They will also annoyingly leave doors wide open for all to ogle (and laugh in some cases).  I guess they’ve seen enough to just not be phased.

So how does this thing work?  First of all, you’re wearing a full yukata (thin, cloth bath robe) when they bury you.  If this was not available, I would have gotten sand in places that sand does not belong – and well, f*@# that.  After that, it’s basically all you would expect from being buried in sand.  The sand is black and very hot.  You lay down and the old lady just starts pouring it on.  I know what you’re thinking – and don’t worry.  The professionals will not give you a giant rack and a large package (unless you ask for one.  Well, I didn’t ask, but I’m sure they need a little bit of fun.).

The buried-alive-with-an-air-hole sensation is freakin’ awesome.  Imagine the best hug you’ve ever gotten in the whole wide world lasting for 10 minutes.  Or, imagine the feeling you get when you bundle up in warm blankets in a cold night, except you’re perfectly tucked in by your Mommy (I love it when you push the blanket under my arms, legs, and feet, as if I’m a mummy).

Although it was a lot of fun and really relaxing, washing the sand off was a pain in the ass.  It actually was such a pain in the ass that I would not recommend going in the sand bath if you don’t like washing sand out of your long hair.  I had some bangs and I wound up standing there for 20 minutes washing like it was my job.

~See Lemons Exfoliate His Skin

 

sand bath details

sand bath details

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Matsuyama Onsen: Bring me back to Spa World

group photo in yukatasgroup photo in yukatas

Random Observation/Comment #66: The larger selection and waterfall massages at Spa World clouded the fact that everything was artificial. Can you feel the difference? Nothing matters when I put that cloth over my eyes and breathe the hot steam clearly through my nose. I could feel every section of my lungs filling with the essentials of life. Dai ski dai yo.

The onsen we went to was the most famous one in Matsuyama (the name escapes me at the moment). It’s so famous that it has its own town of souvenirs and traditional sweets surrounding the highly praised pool of water. They are very proud that the emperor visited this onsen 4 times. You could tell because they offer a tour as a historical overview of where the emperor took his royal dump, and where his holy-ness soaked his nude body (which would apparently blind all who looked at him – no, just kidding I made that up).

I found this tourist attraction onsen overpriced with large groups. Normally you would fit 3 people into a private room (which costs the most money), but since we were a bunch of gai-jin tourists, we fit eight and sat together in a squished circle. The water itself was fine, but I wound up spending more time taking a shower than actually staying in the steaming bath. I found it amusing that when Sebastian and I entered the bath, the Japanese people scattered. It reminded me of that high school science trick where you put detergent on your fingertip and stick it into the middle of a bowl of water sprinkled with pepper. Try it and you’ll know what I mean.

For many of the people on the tour, this was their first time at an onsen. Their reactions were positive, but every single one of them was blushing like peaches. Most of them only stayed in the hot baths for 10 minutes and spend the rest of the time sitting on the cool tatami mats and resting their eyes. We’re all on vacation here so there’s no need to force yourself into any uncomfortable customs. Although, I think everyone should keep an open-mind to what other cultures deem a cleansing of the spirit.

Not to mention that, if you don’t try this once, you won’t be able to experience trying to sit in such a way that everyone doesn’t get too quickly acquainted with you before you buy them a drink. Luckily, or unluckily (depending to who you talk to), the robes were not see-through.

All in all, it was a beautiful night and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Dinner was a poor excuse for Italian style, but it’s pretty difficult to mess up an omelet filled with rice and drenched with gravy. The spaghetti , on the other hand, tasted like it was cooked (processed) by the famous Chef Boyardee. There must have been some weird canned tomato paste they added for the tomato sauce. Yum.

Money on this vacation was just spent on all sorts of experiences. I’m on vacation – I can spend a little extra on a few pints of beers. And, oh boy, did I choose the right tour guide to fulfill this wish. Yuka is amazing for giving me such effortless victories in convincing her to go out for a drink. In fact, it was more like “Can we order some beer tonight?” “Can we? Why wouldn’t we? Kanpai!”

~See Lemons Feel like royalty

Yuka likes her beer

Yuka likes her beer