During our long weekend in Tokyo we all ended up being a wee bit travel weary. It rained, alot. I was coming down with a cold. It was quite chilly outside. And we had spent several days pounding the pavement, seeing the sights.
Fortunately, Japan has the perfect answer for soothing the body and soul after a hard day, or days. They like to take a good, long soak. In general, Aaron and I soak in our own, private ofuro (deep bathtub) at the end of each day. But since we were not at home, and we had visitors, we thought it would be fun to take them to an onsen.
This was actually my first trip to an onsen as well. I had been to a public bath, sento, before, but never an onsen. Onsen’s are public baths that are fed by hot springs.
The particular onsen that we went to was on the outskirts of Tokyo, easily accessed by public transportation. Actually, it was more than an onsen, it was an onsen theme park.
Upon entering Ooedo Onsen Monogatari, we got to choose a yukata. Once you enter the facility, everyone wears the yukata instead of street clothes. It is kind of funny seeing everyone wearing the same thing.
Once you are in your yukata, you have free access to the features of the theme park. There were restaurants and carnival games and, of course, the baths. Most of the baths at this particular onsen, like most onsens, are unisex. Jill and I, and hundreds of other people, enjoyed the warm water, relaxing and chatting.
This onsen had many different types of baths to choose from, and Jill and I tried many of them out. My two favorites were the outdoor bath and the massage bath. The outdoor bath was steaming hot and partially under cover, but it was so nice to feel the raindrops and the cold breeze from the typhoon while soaking in incredibly warm water.
Indoors, there was another bath which I took to calling the massage bath. It was only about 8 inches deep and it was one of the few tubs where you actually lie down, instead of sitting and soaking. Along the bottom of the tub and the sides were carefully placed jets. While lying in the tub, we received a well-deserved, full-body massage. It felt fantastic!
After enjoying a good long soak, we were all feeling warm, refreshed and clean. We went back into the theme park area for some snacks and a few games.
Jill and Ben tried the ninja throwing stars.
They both won marbles.
Then, before leaving, we enjoyed one last bath. This was an outdoor foot bath, and is described on the website as follows:
The smooth round stones embedded in the floor of this bath stimulate the soles of the feet, so a stroll through the water here is a great way to relieve fatigue. Men and women can enjoy this bath together, making it all the more enjoyable.
This bath definitely fell short of its advertising. It was not a relaxing stroll and it was not at all enjoyable. It was more like a torturous walk over a path of pointy, sharp rocks. An area that didn’t have water looked like this, and this is similar to the way the entire bath looked, except we couldn’t see the rocks under the water, and they were placed with far less regularity.
Despite the disappointing, and rather painful, foot bath. We enjoyed our time at the onsen. And, I had a great first-time onsen experience.
Of course, on the way out of the women’s dressing room, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the panty vending machine. They really do sell everything in vending machines in Japan!