August 16, 2008
Partly because of tenuous finances, and partly because I'm rarely home during the 3PM-11PM business hours, I had not previously partaken of the bathouse only 74 steps around the corner from my apt. People spoke highly of the place and I'd never been to a bathouse before so I determined to do it at least once this trip.
Today I kept my roamings no farther afield than Ikebukero, and in the late afternoon I went to the bathouse.
I had NO idea what I was doing, but I figgured that bathing should not be all that difficult.
I walked into the lounge and the manager threw me a horrified look and demanded that I remove my socks. I proceded to oblige until the manager....realizing they WERE socks asked where my shoes were. I pointed to the lockers in the foyer plainly maked with the picture of a shoe. The look of anger evaporated and was replaced with one of surprise.....which worries me for some reason....
Anyway, I paid my 550 yen. No instructions, directional or otherwise were forthcoming but I did know enough Kanji to know the difference between "Mens" and "Womens". This is the second place I've seen those two Kanji on the whole trip.
There was an air conditioned lounge.....with all the secret and wonderful things that are in the boys side of the house that no female shall ever see......as well as lockers, vibro-massage chairs and the entry into the bathouse proper. This consisted of a set of showers and 3 huge swimming pool sized jacuzzi baths, one of which was shapped like a volcano and had red lights strobing up from it.
That was the HOT bath.
The other two were the merely scalding and the just above freezing baths.
It was awesome...if scalding.
In the back was a sauna which I did not use.
One surprise (to me anyway) was that the men and women are in essentially the same high ceilinged room (vaulted ceiling topping out at 40+ feet) seperated by a wall only about 81/2 feet high. The women could be heard on the other side, chattering and presumably doing the Natto danceã€‚This arraingement greatly facilitates the airflow of the place, but given that I'm just over 6 feet tall, had I been obnoxious and stupid, mischief could have been perpetrated. The various Japanese shows where this apparant design flaw is a plot point do not, it would seem strain credulity.
At any rate I got to practice my Japanese quite a bit and feel cleaner than I have in.....about 16 days....
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