Yesterday evening Tetsu and I decided to go a spa that's in our town. It isn't really a hot spring because I don't think it is natural but it is a very nice place to take a hot bath and we spent an hour there.
Tetsu loves hot baths and spas. Most Japanese do and throughout Japan there are whole cities that boast of being built over hot springs that have curative powers (good for rhumatism and arthritis etc.) If you are going to stay at a hotel anyway, you might as well stay at a hot spring and enjoy an elaborate Japanese dinner, wear cotton kimono and take numerous hot baths during your stay.
Not only can you stay the night at these hot baths/hotels, you can also stop in for a few hours and just enjoy the baths and this is what Tetsu and I did yesterday. Since this was a city owned establishment, it was quite inexpensive, just a few dollars, and we brought all our own supplies with us. Soap, shampoo, towels etc. There were actually two main baths (per gender) and I chose to relax in the outdoor bath.
I'm not quite as fond of hot baths as Tetsu is. For one, I like a morning shower and sitting in hot water doesn't thrill me. For another, the water is usually so hot that I have to let myself in gradually and I can't stay in long before getting light-headed. For another, since I go with Tetsu, he's on the men's side so it's not like we're out on a date enjoying each other's company. And I'm not so great with small talk with any other ladies that might be soaking beside me. Over the years I think I've gotten over my qualms of walking around naked in front of strangers, hey, we all have our flab and sag, though going to the baths with friends, people I normally hide my flab from, makes me want to jump in that hot water before they see too much!
Yesterday, Tetsu and I parted at the entrance (the blue curtain says "Men" and the red one says "Ladies") and I undressed and put my stuff in the lockers provided. A quick look outside and I realized that I had the whole bath to myself, so my friends, this was a photography chance that one not often gets! I grabbed my camera (I'm taking this thing with me everywhere!) and went back out and took a couple pictures before anyone else joined me! I'm sure people's attitude toward public nudity would change if I pulled out a camera on them!
So here is a picture of the outdoor bath that I enjoyed yesterday. The setting is separate from the main building and is all enclosed by fence and trees so that no one can peer in. There is constant hot water running in and draining out and the pool was artistically arranged with rocks and seats. Not unlike a California swimming pool but only thigh deep and very hot. Off to the side is an area for washing with hand held showers and basins and sitting stools. Soap, washcloths etc. never get near the pool itself which is kept clean.
After about 10 minutes of enjoying the bath by myself a couple ladies did join me and as I was leaving a whole troupe of ladies came in chattering away ready to enjoy a social visit in the bathtub. A very relaxing way to enjoy the evening.