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Friday, August 03, 2007

A Japanese Story


One memory of the trip this year was going in to this quintessential 'onsen' (hot springs) in Hakone. Hakone was a rainy day, so it was a good day to go to jump into some warm water. Most of the guys came with us, although a few took the opportunity to just stop at Odawara, where we had gotten off the bullet train from Tokyo. Anyway, all was going rosily - a few of the guys were a bit embarrassed about getting down to their birthday suits for the baths (they had been warned) - actually very rosily, if you didn't realise which bath was the scalding one! You could climb up some stairs to get to the top baths. Eventually, I thought I'd take the chance to get upstairs and just enjoy the scenery from the top floor of the beautiful traditional Japanese building, built on the side of a green mountain.

It dawned on me at this point that there was no pile of towels provided, as I had been advised at the Tokyo Ryokan that morning... no I had no towel, and what was worse - I had no towel for the 13 young guys! Luckily, I had bought a small towel to carry into the baths, and had a spare one which I could use for myself. Panicking, I raced out looking for a place where I might be able to hire a towel. Eventually, I found a vending machine... would you believe it - yes, in Japan every kind of vending machine is around most street corners. All I had to do, was get change from the front desk, and spend about 10 minutes, buying 200 yen ($2) small towels out of the vending machine. Going back into the baths, the guys were waiting and looked somewhat relieved!