Saturday, 25 June (I think) Beppo is a small (well, this is relative, but with 125,000 people it is small for Japanese standards) town on the most southwestern of the four main Japanese islands, Kyushu. Squashed between a bay and mountains and with more than 2000 hot springs it is considered a spa resort of Japan. Due to the geothermal activity it is also a sister/brother town of New Zealand’s Rotorua. Just as smelly!
Out of countless hot springs, I chose Miyoban onsen (Japanese word for hot springs) high up on the mountain. Visiting an onsen is a cultural experience in itself. First, tattoos are strictly forbidden. Or at least they used to be very strict when it came to tattoos. Japanese are not really fond of tattoos, they are perceived to be something that only bad, anti-social people and gangsters get. Tattoos are mostly reserved for Yakuza, members of the Japanese mafia. Luckily, nowadays they are a bit more forgiving, especially when it comes to tourists with a tiny (cute) dolphin tattoo on the back of their neck.
Second, if you think you just take off your clothes and jump into the pool, you are wrong. At the very entrance there is a huge bucket full of water. You grab a ladel and pour the water in little splashes all over yourself. Then you move to the washing area. You sit on a little stool, soap thoroughly your whole body, and rinse the soap off (thoroughly again) with a tiny bucket. Once washed you are able to enter the spa. Hm, such a tech savvy nation and they haven’t figured out they could just use showers… :).
I can’t remember the last time I was so clean! The mineral water was doing miracles to my skin and I could just feel how I’m turning into a pure beauty. Or at least so I thought.
The outer beauty is nothing without the inner one. I visited a fountain with this super special beauty and health potion (well, it was just hot mineral water really) that I could almost feel doing its magic on my bowel system. I wish! I nearly threw up as this water was nothing like I would want to drink again anytime soon…
A foot bath?? Now that’s new! I sat down on a wooden chair, opened the lid of the “bath” (the steam was crawling out) and put my feet into the hole. “Aaaaaaaaaa…”. As fast as I put my feet in that hole I pulled them out as well. “This is toooooo hot!” Unfortunately, there was noone around to ask whether I’m doing this right or not. I tried again, but gave up after I burnt my precious little toes. “This is no fun… 😦 .”
A massage, that’s what I need! I walked into a tiny little shop. According to the pictures in the window shop, they do massages here. “Excuse me, what style of massage do you do?” Not that I’m such an expert on massages but I still remember the ayurveda treatment that Nina, Matic and I received while tripping around Sri Lanka years back. I still don’t know if that was true ayurveda, but either way it was very disappointing. We felt we were just impregnated by some smelly herbs that made us stink as hell for the rest of the trip (at least mosquitoes didn’t come anywhere near us). So, when it comes to massage I’m very cautious, however the only answer I got from the guy was “Hai, massage.” OK, I’ll give it a go… It felt good!
Refreshed, renewed, recovered (and with burnt toes) I returned back to Hiroshima, ready for new adventures tomorrow!
By the way, happy birthday Slovenia!