It was one of my biggest fears... being naked in public.
Who'd have thunk, it was beautiful.
Hanashobu is a man-made onsen, just a short walk away from my apartment and university. When I walk at night, the bright lights and billowing steam beckon me. I didn't have the courage to go, until my lolita friend offered to take me.
As soon as I walked in, I knew this wouldn't be your average spa experience. To the right there were lockers for your shoes, which I had also seen at Japanese Izakaya/pubs. When I stepped onto the wooden floor to stowe my shoes, I realised that the floor was heated! It was so nice, after a walk in the cold wind.
We went to the front desk to check in, where we were given [atrocious] fluorescent orange uniforms, a bag for our towels and belongings, and a wrist band. The wrist band worked as our personal credit card of sorts, which kept track of your expenses for the day. All you had to do was hold the bracelet up to a sensor on a vending machine, and the charge would go to your account, to be paid when you left. (After all, you can't carry your wallet around when you're nude can you?)
Okay well, you aren't exactly nude the entire time. Before entering the baths, you get to experience all the saunas. The guests are issued proper sweating uniforms, which I'm certain are designed to dissuade any ideas of possible attraction. The two-piece shirt and shorts combo are highlighter orange for girls [I joked we were in Bath Jail], and pine tree green for the boys [they didn't smell like evergreen].
The first was what I expected from a sauna... a mild room, where you lay down your towel on rocks and roast like a satsumaimo. Nothing exciting to report, except from the fact that I love satsumaimo and was honoured to live like one.
The next room was light therapeutic. The entirely white room was hotter than the first, with marble floors. Between each lying space/stall (?) there was a 'wall' of string lights, which changed colours every fifteen minutes. The colour from the lights was cast throughout the whole room. I loved watching the colours change, especially to cerulean blue and hot pink.
To take a break from sweating our butts off, we stopped in a snow room- no literally, a snow room. The cylindrical room had glass windows all around, and scented snow fell from the ceiling. Someone had built a tiny snowman and left him to chill.
The last room was my personal favourite... we laid on our backs and looked up at a changing night sky. Stars twinkled on a deep navy background, until morning broke, and the 'sky' became robin's egg blue.
Finally, it was time for the main event... the strip down. This was the moment I was dreading, not just because of my own insecurities, but also...
I have a giant tattoo on my back.
Read more after the cut!