Day 14&15 Beppu & Takyama

Trip Start Nov 18, 2011
Trip End May 28, 2012

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Flag of Japan  , Kyushu-Okinawa,
Sunday, December 4, 2011

Day 14 Beppu

Today was the big day. Its not often that we do a five hour round trip just to have a bath, but that's exactly what we did today. People from all over Japan visit Beppu in the South West for this very purpose. Second only to the yellow springs national park it is the area with the most amount of natural hot springs on the planet. There are literally hundreds of baths all over the city (known as onsen) and it's not uncommon for peolple to visit several in a day. We picked one that looked a bit posh in the brochure and had signs in English and went and found it. Claire was very nervous not having shared my bathing experience (a steep learning curve) in Kyoto. The concept of stripping completely naked and sharing a bath with many other women of all ages seemed a bit daunting to her - can't see why!! Men and women bath seperately so we agreed to meet in the courtyard after an hour and headed our seperate ways. I loved it. There were all different baths to choose from including outdoor baths, steam rooms and really painful waterfall showers. All the baths were heated by the water from the hot spring. After the hour I waited in the courtyard in anticipation of Claires return. Finally she came out, "it was fine" she said "a bit boring". Success! We had managed to experience this surprisingly big part of Japanese culture (some Japanese believe the baths are the only part of their culture that has not been changed by Chinese influence over the years) and quite enjoyed it. After talking to two international school teachers from England who were on their holidays from Tokyo, we decided to have a sand bath. This entailed wearing a big robe and disposable underwear (which Claire forgot to put on) and covering yourself in really hot sand- a bit wierd but nice. After this we headed back to the baths for another 30 mins before going back to Fuokoaka on the train. Relaxed and ready for bed!

Day 15

Today we had a 7 hour train journey from Fukoaka to Takayama. The last stage of the journey was particually beautiful as we went through the Japanese alps. We arrived here after dark and after checking into our lovely hostel(the nicest yet) we went out for some food. We found a tiny place selling traditional Japanese curry. Claire had a mushroom one and i had one with an egg that had been cooked in a hot spring on top. It was delicious. After food we made our way back to the hostel and with little warning Claire fell asleep. At a loss for what to do I decided to do the only sensible thing- you guessed it, I went to the public baths! This time was alot less eventful, but very pleasant. Its absolulely freezing here so the baths felt especially warm. When I got back Claire had just woken up and we spent the next couple of hours talking to the girl who worked on reception who had just returned to Japan after having lived in Prauge for 5 years. Tomorrow we will have a proper look around Takayama befor heading for Nagoya in the search of mount Fuji.

Will x
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