Another thing that we haven’t done in Japan so far is stay in a ryokan, which is a more traditional Japanese hotel, so this time, we stayed at one in the famous hot spring town of Hakone. The floors have tatami mats and there were yukata and slippers for us to wear around the place. This one was also built over an onsen (hot spring), so we got to enjoy the baths as well.
I would like to say that we went the whole way and slept on futons as well, but we chickened out instead and went for a Western-style bed.
In anime and J-dramas, they always seem to play table tennis in yukata (a lighter version of a kimono), and MrFodder loves table tennis, so it seemed like it was something we had to do.
I lost pretty badly:
After that, it was time for a relaxing dip in the bath. Most hot spring baths require you to be completely naked, and you also wash yourself beforehand so that the water stays clean. The first time we went to one, it was during a weekday, so the place was pretty much empty and I was the only person in the bath. It was pretty good, as I didn’t have to play the awkward avoid-eye-contact-at-all-costs game. MrFodder tells me that men’s changerooms are usually filled with people who are happy to walk around naked like it’s not a problem, so I’m glad I didn’t have to go through that.
This time there were other women there (the baths are gender segregated), but not long after I entered, they all left, and then I was alone for about 30 minutes wondering what I did wrong and whether I smelled bad or something. Just before I was about to leave, someone else joined me: a literature student from Nagoya. However, I wasn’t wearing my glasses, so I had no idea what she looked like. I also didn’t get her name, which was one of the few things I had practice saying before we left! I spent the rest of the night awkwardly trying not to make eye-contact with anyone in case it was her and she got the impression that I had forgotten her.
Dinner and breakfast was included as part of the accommodation, and…. well…. I did say that I was going to eat some raw fish this trip and now was a good a time as any…
I managed to get through it, and while I’m not a fan, I can at least say I don’t like it after having eaten it now, rather than judging the food by its cover.
Dinner actually ended up being a 10-course meal, which was pretty intense, but we somehow managed to eat it all.
After that, we got an in-room massage, and these two sweet, old Japanese ladies came in to do it. It was a bit of a mental exercise trying to converse with them in Japanese. They asked us if we had children, to which we both said no. I asked one of them in return, and she said she didn’t either, it was just her and her dog. We later found out that she had a daughter, who was half-blind, and ended up passing away.
I then asked the other one whether she had children, and she said she didn’t either. I asked if she had a dog, and she said no. I felt really awkward now, but I hadn’t learned my lesson yet, and moved on to asking if she had a cat. She said no. To make things even more awkward, MrFodder and his masseuse were now talking about how Chinese people eat dogs and cats (and MrFodder trying to assert in broken Japanese that this is actually a myth and that most Chinese people don’t). I just lay there awkwardly.
The women kept calling MrFodder “Handsome Boy”, and they seemed to really like him. At the end, one of them gave us some pressed flowers she had made, including two four-leaf clovers, which I thought was so nice of her!
I wanted to tell her that probably can’t bring them back to Australia, and tried to refuse them, but she insisted that we take them. Hopefully it’ll bring us some luck for the rest of our trip.