Japan... Tokyo in particular... Absolutely has to be put in your top 5 places to visit! The wonders of this culture all centralizing from their capital city, Tokyo, is absolutely a wonderful experience. This trip in particular, went close to perfect. Many things can lead to a perfect experience, although, nothing really sends it home like a perfect flight over. On this trip, I was able to fly on Japan airlines. JAL airplanes are extremely comfortable and their attendants spend the necessary time to making sure you are happy during the long journey.
Once in Tokyo, life under complete precision began. From the daily meetings to the Bullet Train, you could set a watch to the timing of the activities. If the train says it is leaving at 3:15, it will leave exactly at 3:15.
There was really just one thing I was not prepared for on this trip in particular… Our great host felt it was necessary for us to experience not just the Japanese food, which was delicious, but also the historic Japanese ritual of taking a bath in the Japanese natural Hot Springs. This translates to exactly what you would expect. I was about to be naked in a public bath with a bunch of other men. Not really an activity you ever see me running up to experience…. Although after many polite and considerate opportunities to derail this part of the trip, it remained… and we were scheduled to head there during our last evening in Tokyo. So much history in Tokyo, from the Shogun era to the Forbidden Castle, I truly was not sure why we focused on this spa to be the last event but we did….
This particular hot-spring complex, La Qua, resides in Tokyo’s Dome City and uses sodium chloride-enriched hot spring water that is being pulled from 1700m underground. It is said that the water has many healing properties but mainly helps with muscle stiffness, neuralgia, and healing a cold…. That is the brochure portion of this blog. Now for my personal experience…
On the way to the Lobby it is easy to recognize the bath has both a woman’s and a men’s section and these two shall not mix. Unfortunate! I think it would be a bit easier if we were all just thrown in together. Although, I am sure then they would have to worry about many other things… The next a bit of worrisome came when the sign in the locker room detailed that anyone with any tattoos or body markings were not allowed in the bath. I raised my eyebrow and kinda pointed out the tattoos on my ankle to a person in the group. He told to just keep it covered best I could. Apparently, Tattoos or Irezumi as they are called in Japanese were criminalized in the beginning of theMeiji period (some time after 1868) as a way to make a good impression on the west. (A bit ironic in this case...) It was legalized again after the war in 1948 but still retains its image of criminality.
So with nothing on me except my tattoo I headed towards the bath. They give you a hand towel that you are able to wash with and possibly try to deflect any major visual contact with your goods as you walked to the spa, but I really found it quite useless… So I brought a bath towel. No I didn’t… Yes I did. And it would of worked perfectly till our host pointed out a chair that I could leave it on… ahh naked again…
You are at this time given a small wooden bucket that you are suppose to fill and wash yourself thoroughly before entering the bath. That sounds a lot easier then it is, especially under the watchful eyes of the older Japanese men that were very curious why a white guy has somehow found himself in their sanctuary.
Finally after 50 shades of red, I found myself in this beautiful oasis with palm trees and pools of water surrounding. Steam blanketing and the water dark enough where nothing can really be seen at all. So with that I quickly submerged and realized instantly I have been missing out! This place is terrific! It took seconds not minutes to realize that this historic and almost religious custom of the Japanese was spot on. Any stress and muscle ache that I have been possibly carrying just disappeared. It was fantastic. You were able to move up to different pools that had different temperatures and then move to different areas that offered other spa style of relaxation. It was a fantastic experience and one I am truly grateful that we had an opportunity to try.
We experienced so many wonderful things in Japan and there to stand witness to things that i just only had heard about. It is true, they are so all very polite and for a New Yorker you see this immediately! Also did you know they have a national custom for Christmas dinner which is to have everyone over for a bucket of KFC Chicken! I even had to ask this question to many others because I could not believe this was true. Funny enough, they all through this too was our custom in the States.
Many thanks to our business partners and host!
Many thanks to Japan and most of all, many thanks to the wonderful city of Tokyo!