Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Slug is as slug does

(Tsurunoyu Onsen, Tazawako)

Not ten minutes after writing that, the phone in my room rang. After many a ‘sumimasen, wakarimasen’, the woman on the other end hung up, knocked on my door, and said “clean room?” If she’d just said that on the phone, she’d have saved herself the trip.

The blue rotemburo I spotted was a mixed sexes bath, which really just means its for men, as very few women enter the mixed baths. There were none to be seen when I went past.

The rotemburo I’d already visited was crowded, with ten or more women of various ages slouching around and gossiping like a bunch of gallahs. What a carry on! I’ve seen more naked bodies today than most of you see in a year. Ordinary bodies, that are lived in and worn with use, are fascinating things. I’m such a different shape to these people.

Once again the lethargy hit me, and once again I went with it. The seat cushions aren’t exactly thick, but I still managed an actual nap on them. I probably shouldn’t have, I’ll just sleep even less tonight. Guess I am pretty buggered. After my nap, I just sat and looked out the window, doing nothing and content to do nothing. Then I lay down again. Note to self: next time you plan a long trip, give yourself many, many more rest days. Like, more than one.

I had a small wander around the onsen in the afternoon. It isn’t big enough to explore, really.

I’d like to take more photos, hell, any photos of the baths during daylight, but people don’t really appreciate it when you snap pictures of them in the bath. There were no shops nearby, and no lunch provided, but I planned for that. A small loaf of bread was smuggled in my back pack, although I didn’t plan so far ahead as to do anything interesting with said bread. Like, spreads or fillings.

I did find another women only rotemburo hiding behind the mixed sexes bath. This one was smaller, up against a rock wall and overhung with trees and bamboo.

Dinner wasn’t the mushroom orgy it was last night, and there was none of that viscous sauce to be seen. There were still plenty of mushrooms to be had, as well as some pork, iceberg lettuce (I was alllll over that), cold udon noodles, another fish, and the stew again.

When they’ve taken the trays away, I’ll have myself another quick bath, a get clean bath not a mineral bath, and jump into bed. I’ve already packed, and am looking forward to another night of watching DVDs. I feel ungrateful and stupid for saying this, but I need to not be in Japan for a bit, and DVDs are the best way to go about it.

Ah, Mr Man just came to collect the trays. He makes a lot of noise, moving about. I can always tell when he’s passing my room in the corridor, due to this funny little trick he has in his breathing. He’s picked up a stuffy nose too. I like him. He bustles about with great energy, and seems to make whoever he talks to laugh.

Tsurunoyu Onsen has been operating as a bath for around 300 years, from memory. The mountain it lies against is steep and deeply forested, with brilliant green trees just showing a hint of autumn gold. The buildings are old wood, turned black with time, and thatched against the winter snow. In the morning, the steam from the baths rises thick, and my breath frosted before me.

It isn’t a cheap place to stay. It isn’t a convenient place to stay. But it was worth it.

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