KIDS:  CWSE Report 9

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Children's World Summit for the Environment



Koby's Report #9 - Hot Springs

When we first arrived in Gujo, Ms Blandchett called me over to a little circle with the other girls in my group. 

She said, “Koby I just told the girls about this and they're not sure they want to go, but if you want to, you can.” 

 I just thought, “Aaaaaaa OKay.?” 

She asked me if I wanted to go swimming in the hot springs.  I was surprised that the girls had not wanted to go.  They had wanted to swim since we had gotten there.  Sarah started laughing and said that there was a catch, and Ms. Blanchette started smiling too.

Ms. Blanchette leaned in and whispered, “You have to go naked.” 

I started cracking up and said, “No way.” 

I mean, I can't just go walking around like that with people I don't know.... or with people I DO know for that matter.  She told me that boys were separated from girls, which made me feel a little better....but still, I didn't think I was up for that much of a cultural experience.     

While she was telling us about it, two of the Japanese men, who were running the Gujo trip, came up and helped her explain it a little more.   They said that you get towels and you are allowed to wear them in the water.  When I heard that, it didn't sound like that big of a deal at all.  It's just like swimming in a pool.  They just don't want your dirty bathing suit mixing in with their clean water.   I told Ms. Blanchette that it sounded awesome, and that I would go, but the girls had already made up their minds.  They didn't feel comfortable wearing a towel with nothing under it.  

When the men were done giving us all the information, they introduced us to our home stay hostess.   She was 18 years old and a Japanese ambassador, though I don't know what she was an ambassador for.  After shaking hands and greeting each other she lead us out to her families car.  She had an older brother, a mother and a grandmother.  We piled into their van and drove to the “public bath”. 

When we arrived we took off our shoes and sox and put them in lockers.  Later we went to the front desk and received our “towels” in small pink bags.  The two Japanese men, who {Koby outside of hot spring.} were talking to us earlier, were going to show me around and tell me about the different sections of the Japanese spa.  We went into the locker room where we changed into our “towels” and locked up the  rest of our clothes.  Then we went to the hot springs.

When we walked through the door it was a little bit of a shock.  Not at first because of the hot springs, but because no one was wearing their towels.....EW!   I just tried to stay away from people who weren't. 

Once I got over the first shock, I was able to move on to the second.  It was amazing looking out on the hot springs.  There were two steaming pools.  One had three water slides flowing into it with water from the spring spewing out of the top.  Between the two was a pathway of small pebbles.  Hot water was bubbling up from under them to massage your feet as you walked across.  I just thought it tickled.

My two tour guides told me to get into the second pool with the water slides.  Still wearing our towels, we got in.  It was like a hot tub, but better.  There was no smell of chlorine, no jets, just bubbling water and some places of still water.  I would have fallen a sleep if it weren't for the sign above the pool reading, “DO NOT  SLEEP”  in Japanese and English.  I was told that if you fell asleep in the water and stayed in too long, the high temperatures could be bad for your heart.  That was good enough reason for me.  Instead of sitting, where I could have easily drifted off, I got out and walked up the stone steps to the water slides.  I chose the longest one.  I sat down, wrapped in my towel, and pushed off.  The water was flowing really fast and it was hot....hotter than the water in the pool.  I slid down laughing and yelling as the two Japanese men laughed at me from below.  I landed in the pool where I went under and came up chuckling to myself.  It was so much fun, I did it three or four more times. 

{Koby at the spa.} Afterwards, we continued the tour where we went to the sauna and the salt room.  It was my first time in a sauna, since you have to be 18 where I live.  There was a T.V. in one corner and wooden bleachers along two walls.  We sat down for about a minute.  I felt like I could have stayed longer, but one of the men that was showing me around was turning bright purple from the heat. He didn't like saunas. 

We moved on to the salt room.  The salt room was basically a salty sauna.  As soon as I walked through the door, I could taste the salt in the air.  The room was extremely humid and very stuffy.  It felt like I was having a hard time breathing, so we left pretty quickly.

When we came out, we had run out of time, so we rinse ourselves off with cool water and got ready to leave.  Other than the fact that most of the Japanese people in the public bath didn't use their towels, the hot springs was a pretty cool experience, or warm I should say.

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Content Last Modified on 1/31/2007 3:50:52 PM