Saturday, November 29, 2008

First Onsen Experience, いい だな!

Let me start off by saying I'm terrified of the nudity thing, I'm even embarrassed to be in a bathing suit. But to let that keep me from experiencing the Onsen would be such a shame, especially since Beppu is well known for hot spring resorts. I had to do the Love Hina hot spring thing at least once before leaving Japan! These hot springs are all over the town, varying in modern, to old style traditional resorts. The older ones tend to be hotter in temperature.

So on Saturday we went to Beppu to check out Hyotan hot spring. It was 700JPY($7) for an adult admission and 200JPY($2) for the yukata rental so we could do the sand bath too. So yea.. back in Highschool even though I took gym and had to change in the locker rooms, me and a lot of other girls managed to avoid the social naked awkwardness by changing in the showers (don't worry it was clean! ... apparently people in my school never showered, now thas nasty!). So I never experienced the room full of naked others, until yesterday O____O. For once in my life I was happy that I have bad vision because I quickly took my glasses off so I wouldn't have to see a thing!

While the naked part is still bizarre and I would prefer some clothes over complete public nakedness, I guess it's not as bad as I was expecting. Don't get me wrong, it's still bad! but not THAT bad. I would definitely do it again.

Oh and on 2 completely random notes, in Japan, the food you order off the menu looks almost exactly like what they bring to you. It's awesome, even fast food items comes out the same way. This can also be a bad thing too, because if you see 4 slices of green beans in the picture, that's exactly how many you're going to get. The quality and quantity matches the photo. That Mega Muffin was delicious by the way.

and before we went to Beppu I went to buy a towel for the hot spring, and I accidentally left my towel in my bike basket at the train station. When I came back 6 hours later it was still there undisturbed! how great is that?? that kind of thing never happens in America, you blink once and somebody might snatch the panties right off you! the low crime rate is definitely one of the many perks of living in Japan.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bamboo Festival in Taketa

Yesterday there was an amazing festival taking place in Taketa, just an hour and a half away from Oita city.

We went there early enough to participate in lighting some of the bamboo lights. That was pretty awesome to be able to light up the candles. The sun was still out so we decided to walk around town a bit and check out Oka castle ruins.

While walking towards Oka castle ruins it started to rain so the lady selling tickets lent us free umbrellas! her generosity took me by complete surprise. Little things like that just makes me love Japan more and more.

The view from Oka castle ruins is fantastic, you can see the mountains all around you. A lot of skeeters there though, I got chewed up!

It was starting to get dark so we went back to town hoping all the lights would finally be lit. Unfortunately the rain picked up.

It wasn't raining that hard, but just enough to put out most if not all of the candles.
We were feeling a bit down about the rain and ready to head back to the train station when we decided to dry off, warm up, and get some hot ramen and tea at the local restaurant.

The steaming bowl of ramen made everything feel much better. I love eating hot noodles and soups on cold rainy nights.

It definitely made me feel better about the rain situation. Upon leaving the ramen shop we realized there were people still determined to relight the candles inside the bamboo in spite of the pouring rain. They laid the bamboo down so the rain wouldn't get inside. It was cool seeing everyone trying so hard to keep the festival going.

The atmosphere of everything was pretty indescribable. It felt like looking into a sea of stars. The whole night made me reflect and remember that even though things might not go as planned, if you focus on the negatives too much you can easily miss out on up side of things Who's to say that just because its raining that the festival has to end? I believe the rain added more to the whole awesomeness of being there and definitely made the ramen taste 10x better.