Jan 29, 2018

Blunder at a bathhouse

In my travels around Japan, there have been very few disappointments when it comes to traveling. The transportation is rather clean, on time and not super expensive. Staying in hotels has been pretty much as expected, aside from the oddness of a toilet in the shower in a few. What I didn't expect was for my hostel stay to not include a shower in the building. You see, the building used to be an old apartment complex in the middle of Tokyo. The designers figured people could just go down to the local bathhouse and scrub up before coming home. There are actually plenty of apartments around Japan like this. When apartment hunting, having an onsite bathroom could up your rent by almost 10,000 yen ($100). But if you are living in the apartment, I would hope you would know that is what you are signing up for.

When I checked into this hostel, I wasn't aware, but I also wasn't bothered by it.

Maybe I should back up. Let me tell you a bit about why I was staying in a hostel that night. I had just climbed Mount Fuji, that big heaping colossal pile of rocks, and it left me tired, dirty and worn out. I had plans to stay with a person I knew who is no longer a person that I know for the exact thing that happened after I got back from one of the most exhausting feats of my life -- they didn't answer their phone or the door. So, I scrambled to find a place to sleep. I was utterly covered in grime from layers of sweat and volcanic ash. And it turned out I'd picked a lodging without a shower. But that just made the walk to the bathhouse all the more exciting. Right?

It was my first time going to a small bathhouse (sento) in Japan. I'd been to a fancy, shmancy hot spring (onsen) before. Loads of them actually, but this was a first for the tiny one-room house.

Blunder at a bathhouse photo

Looked just like this, except ladies

The bathhouse was literally a one-room building separated in half for men and women and the attendant at the front could easily see over to either area. She was the one who took my money and rented me a towel and shampoo. She wasn't rude, but not particularly friendly either. However, the old ladies all stark naked and scrubbing themselves clean were extremely friendly. Many of them ran up to rub my white smooth skin with a childlike twinkle of marvel in their eyes. They were all so sweet, but let me get on my way to finally get the dirt off of my face and out of my hair. And then the absolute best part about a bathhouse and why I wasn't put off not getting a shower in the hostel, the tub. My sore muscles ached to get in.

BUT OMG my skin was scalded!!

The ladies laughed and chuckled at the silly foreigner and one came over and turned the cold water on to cool the tub. The thermostat read 92 degrees Celcius. It was a hot bath. But then, the worst thing happened. As I was attempting to stir the cold into the near boiling remainder of the tub, the attendant from the front came over yelling at me like I was a child who had broken their favorite vase. Completely confused, I just let her yell at me, hoping to figure out the reason later. Turns out, mixing the cold water was a waste of energy. I should have just somehow mixed the layer of scalding topwater with the tepid water that had sunk to the bottom of the tub (not adding more cold water). The lady who had turned the water on for me explained all of this. But I had already been turned off from the place. I walked out with my tail between my legs like a wet dog and walked miserably back to my hostel bunk.

The one thing I got out of this, don't beat yourself up over mistakes. They happen. Move on and find better experiences. I have since been to several lovely small baths in Japan with amazing attendants. 



American step mom with beautiful Brazilian babies. Raising them in Japan. I'm a crafter too