Day 3 - Back on Shinkansen - 8:25AM JPT

Continuing from where I left off, the food at the onsen was fabulous! It was quite a large meal, too. They started us out with little tidbits of things and set a couple of burners ablaze under our soup stuff. They also lit a burner under something we didn’t know. After they served it to us, we realized it was gohan (rice) with fish in it. Everything was so delicately prepared and it was delightful. About a third of the way through our meal they brought us tempura which was very delicious. After all of that I was so full I was about to pop…but they weren’t done yet. They brought out a dish with Japanese raddish and fish, as well as dessert. The raddish dish had a delightful appearance and an even better flavor. By the end of the meal I was so full that sleep beckoned me. Melissa and I were in bed by 7:00PM.

We awoke @ 4:30AM and were unable to sleep any longer (for obvious reasons). So, we decided to go out to the onsen. I admit I was disappointed that I didn’t get to try the left onsen (reserved for men from 15:00-22:00). But, the right onsen was very enjoyable. When I entered there was an older gentleman washing himself in the showers. I proceeded to do the same (twice over) and got into the first main onsen in the right area. This was enclosed, so steam filled the room and seeing each individual was difficult. However, the temperature was great! I was warmer than what I would call perfect, but not so hot that it caused my body to tingle all over. I soaked in this for about 15 minutes before going to the outside ones. The first one outside was this big wooden bath tub (enough to fit 3 comfortably) with a wooden spout. This was a perfect temperature as I was able to submerge my entire body (up to my neck) and zone out for a while, but remain comfortable. Nobody was in this but me (for that matter, I think there were only 2 other Japanese folk besides myself there). After about 15 minutes in this I stepped out and went to the next stone bath, which was only warm, not hot. It was relaxing, but disappointing. I soaked in this for about 10 minutes and moved on to the last bath in the row, which was the hottest of all. The second I stepped into the bath I knew I was going to be a boiled egg. I needed to acclamate myself to it first, so I only got in and sat down on a slab that soaked me from the waist down. After about 5 minutes of this I could feel my pulse throughout my legs, and decided to soak my chest, too. So, I went in and felt my entire body relax. I felt nothing but peace and serenity throughout…at least for the next 10 minutes. I then started feeling pins & needles throughout my body as well as an increasing pulse. So, I got out and walked down to an area that overlooked Yubara. I couldn’t see much because it was dark, but it was peaceful and quiet. No city lights anywhere around; no bustling traffic; just the wind and nature.

I went back and resoaked in the ones that weren’t so hot and enjoyed myself for another 30 minutes before returning to see if Melissa was out. She wasn’t, so I went back in. I found another bath that was so cute I had to try it. It was a large copper pot (one of the ones you might see in the old 1920’s movies of people taking baths in public). This one was quite old and was large enough for only one person and had a smell of metal and minerals. When I went in it definitely was a perfect temperature. I soaked for about 15 minutes and got back into the really hot one, where another Japanese gentleman was at. He and I didn’t converse, though he seemed uncomfortable with me there after about 5 minutes and left.

So, in the end I walked out around 5:30AM feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. I went back to the room & wrote the last entry and went to sleep.

I forgot to add the part about the private bath. I had a bit of difficulty communicating to them that we wanted a private onsen. We had it for almost an hour and it cost 3000 Yen. We walked outside and into a back area. He led us to a door, showed us in, and left us by ourselves. Melissa and I had already changed and bathed ourselves, so we didn’t need to bathe again. We soaked in the jacuzzi in the bathing area for 5 minutes or so, then went where the bath was at. It was big enough for only 2, which was perfect. Upon first inspection it was a completely wooden bath. However, it was a smooth wood and was not warped or split at all, which was impressive. It had an interesting design in gold print at the bottom of the bath of a samurai (?) and geisha making love…which led me to believe they were expecting something to happen. The water, however, was VERY hot. Melissa and I were very comfortable (and happy) to get to be in at least one onsen together, but we had to get out a couple of times because we were overheating ourselves. It didn’t help that I hadn’t had much to drink that day and I felt dehydrated. I couldn’t drink the onsen water because it was too hot and I didn’t know if it was safe to drink. But, needless to say it was relaxing before our big dinner. Melissa definitely seemed to enjoy it.

The breakfast the following morning was enjoyable. The traditional cabbage salad, fish, gohan, miso soup, tofu, and other little tidbits were had. It wasn’t too big - enough to hold us over till lunch, but it was quite tasty nonetheless. We packed up and left the onsen and headed back to Higashi-hiroshima. This was a rest day for us again since Melissa seemed to be getting really tired. Additionally, I found a brochure to Hiroshima and found out that ALL museums closed today, December 29, for the end of the year. I was both pissed and disappointed, but it gives us a better opportunity to spend time in Osaka and Kyoto, with our friend Brookie.

Before crashing at the Sleep Inn, Melissa and I headed out to find some food. The front desk attendant recommended Okonomiyaki, which I had before. We went there and were concerned because all the lights were out. I came to find out that this was their home, and they served the Okonomiyaki out of a room below their home. It was setup with the grill in front of a bar, and it had two tables. The woman (owner and chef) didn’t speak English, but we had no problem ordering it. It was very sweet, but absolutely wonderful tasting. It was exactly what I had hoped for in Okonomiyaki. The style of place was what I was hoping for as well; it was a family-run, small, yet pleasant. Local commoners came through, and listening to their conversations were interesting. In all it was 1300 Yen, which was decent for dinner. Melissa and I came back and were in bed by 7:30PM, where I was up for an hour and a half coughing. We slept all night and are now on our way to Shin-Osaka.