Saturday, December 3, 2016
Today, I went shopping at a place in Osaka called Den Den Town where lots of electronics (especially second-hand) are sold. We also went to downtown Shinsaibashi which is also famous for its giant billboards and lines of shopping centers.
At this time of year it’s filled with lots of Christmas music for cute dates (since Christmas here is a couple’s holiday rather than a family holiday as compared to America). It was a bit strange for me to be looking at a very Japanese city and to be hearing the Christmas songs I grew up listening to in America.
But by the end of our shopping, I’d gotten some secondhand games for further Japanese practice, a sweater for the cooling weather and some goodies from gatcha machines for gifts for friends and family.
After shopping from around 10am to 5pm, we headed over to Spa World where I experienced my first public bath. (I have no pictures of this as cameras are, understandably, not allowed in the bathing areas).
Public baths in Japan are often called onsen (温泉), which means a warm spring. Most of these are natural springs, but the place we went to was on the 6th floor of the building, so it definitely wasn’t natural, but was still nonetheless very nice.
Baths are separated between the men and women. After entering the area for your sex, you take off all your clothes and head towards the shower area to wash your entire body before entering the public baths.
It sounds like it would be very awkward to strip naked in front of strangers and just sit in a pool of warm water together, but honestly, once you got over the awkwardness of being naked in front of others, it becomes very relaxing. No one really cares that you’re naked anyway.
The water of each bath (there were multiple) was about 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees fahrenheit) and each one relaxed your body and made your skin feel soft and refreshed afterwards.
We stayed for about two hours before we decided to leave, at which point we put on a robe provided by the facility, dried our bodies and hair and reapplied any makeup if necessary. Once done with that, we were able to retrieve our clothes, put those back on and leave the building.
I was really scared to experience my first public bath, but overall I really enjoyed it. Not the naked in front of other people part, but because of how refreshed and calm I felt afterwards.
All my friends who experienced it before me said they felt the same way I did, but that it’s only awkward if you make it awkward. And I’d like to pass the same advice onward. The idea of public baths can seem very daunting, but it’s not as bad as your mind is making it out to be. So if you have the opportunity to go, I would definitely recommend it!