Monday, April 14, 2008

Cultural Experience #26+27

Today I woke up really early and went with a bunch of my coworkers to see yabusame, Japanese archery on horseback. The archer rides a horse down a long path and has to shoot three targets without stopping. It was pretty interesting. The cherry blossoms were past full bloom so when the wind blew there was pink snow.


I probably had four panic attacks on the drive up. It was way out in the country and we took little winding roads.


Afterwards we went to an onsen. It was my first time, and being the only girl in the group, I had to face the Japanese bath alone. It was weird. The whole idea of onsens is strange. Or the Japanese obsession is. Children, teenagers, old people, all strip naked and sit together in hot water. Frequently.

First you buy a ticket and then get a key and a towel from the clerk. Then you walk into a locker room, get butt naked, and ask strangers which door you should go through. Then you enter a shower room, where dozens of ladies are sitting on little stools and lathering up in front of little mirrors. I sat at a stool and started washing my hair and staring in the mirror thinking how surreal this was. I watched a few old naked ladies, to see what I should do next, and they went through a door to get outside. I followed. I was disappointed by the pool, it was pretty small and the scenery wasnt great. I held my little white towel over my shame as I got in. Everyone stared at me. It's hard to be inconspicuous when youre a foreigner. There were some old ladies near me, talking to each other, there were a few kids playing with their mom, and there were some young teenage girls huddled together.

It was totally not relaxing. I had to pee and I felt totally out of place. And I was alone, it probably would have been better if I had someone in there I could talk to. Above all, it just seemed totally bizarre. Like, Japanese people just go get naked with their friends and sit and chat in water?

I'd go again.

7 comments:

ElizT said...

That wss enterprising! Take a few friends next time.

josh pincus is crying said...

I have a mental picture that I don't want to have.

Frederik Jurk said...

You´re the queen of entering awkward situations and being reflective about it. Since most of life is awkward and consists of considerable amouts of being naked, you´re mastering life more than you realize and/or want to admit.

I´m being serious here.

red-handed said...

Weirdo.

tofusquirrel said...

those pictures are beautiful!

Prozacville said...

I hope you didn't pee in the pool.

At the grand old age of 23, I would hope you'd have grown out of this by now...

That said, I still fart in the yoga oven (bikram)...

Anonymous said...

Hey, what you described is not a far cry from the women's locker room at my gym, which is here in America.

Several of the girls from my work and myself sit around completely naked in the women's sauna at the gym. After a little while you don't care that your naked. In fact after a while you never want to go back to wearing a swimsuit or towel in the sauna.

Susan