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Japanese Hot Spring Inn (Onsen-Ryokan)

Author: rogue.wave.traveler
Date of Trip: February 2014

I got changed into the robe and went into one of the rotenburo baths on my floor.

The idea here is that you can bathe with just your party if you wish. The public baths were in the basement.

I latched the sliding door for privacy, removed my geta and stepped up onto the carpeted platform. I got undressed and put my things into a basket and noticed a vanity with shower caps, hair ties, all sorts of lotion and face cream and a few hair dryers for apr├Ęs bath.

The shower area was a tiled floor separated from the changing room by a glass wall with a door. There were two shower stations each with a low wooden bench, a bucket and containers of body wash, shampoo and conditioner.

I had a shower and rinsed away the soap.

Beyond the shower room was a door leading outside to a balcony. With just my teeny towel to cover me, I stepped out. There was a tall wall for privacy but I could still enjoy the view. It was a little chilly so I sat on the edge of the wooden two-person tub and slipped in slowly.

It was pretty hot so there was an awkward period where my legs were boiling but my top was shivering! I used the little wooden ladle to gradually pour the warm water over my shoulders, acclimatizing my skin to the temperature. Eventually, I was in up to my neck and the steam swirled around my face.

It was silent except for the water flowing into the tub to replace that which had spilled out as I got in. Occasionally, a crow would caw from a nearby tree. Once the water level reaches the lip of the tub, the flow stops automatically.

Perfect silence...relaxation...joy, fulfillment.

Twenty minutes or so later, I got dressed in the yukata and geta, tucked my room key into the convenient sleeve-pocket and sipped some of the cool "ionized" water before visiting the ladies' public bath.

There were two sets of lockers, the first for shoes, the second for clothes. I guess some people use the facility just for the day without staying at the hotel.

There was a change room, shower, sauna, an indoor hot spring pool and then an outdoor hot spring pool. Each of the pools could accommodate at least 10 people.

No one was in the indoor section and there were six ladies outside plus two new arrivals in the changing room. Still red in the face from my first soak, I stepped into the onsen lobby area between the men's and ladies' change rooms. Here, they played typical spa music complete with birdsong and ocean wave mash-up.

They had an extensive library of books and magazines to read while you zen out. I looked at a poetic photo essay about the life of snow-monkeys in Hokkaido by season. Of course, the winter monkeys were the cutest!

Onsite was a spa treatment centre offering facials, body massages and some kind of pomegranate wrap for "female hormone balance"...if my Japanese didn't steer me wrong. Um, no thank you!

I took the stairs to the main lobby where my dedicated bar tender awaited. He explained the view to me. A giant kanji for the word big had been burned into the mountain during last August's summer festival.

He gave me cool sake to drink while I enjoyed the inspiring view and once again used the foot bath.

My bar tender poured with a heavy hand and I was terrified that I might get a bit tipsy. Luckily, the hotel manager ushered me to dinner!

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