My second moment of calm in Tokyo was a heavenly experience at the onsen at Odaiba. The place is advertised as a hot springs theme park that has many pools and an indoor simulation of a summer night market. You change into a Japanese robe called a yukata and stroll beneath the stars and paper lanterns hanging on strings. There are games such as throwing hoops or scooping up (plastic) goldfish, and places for food surrounding wooden tables and benches (which is a food court, essentially, but it’s dressed up so cute you won’t believe it’s a food court). This is stuff I’ve only seen in manga and anime, and I was totally falling for it.
Husband suggested spending an hour and a half at the pools. “Are you sure you can stand being around naked men for that long?” That was the reason we almost didn’t come to this place. “And you’re not going to get bored just sitting in a bath?”
I was a little inhibited too at first, being in the public baths, but the shyness quickly went away. “Everybody’s got arms and legs, boobs and hips, body hair, etc. What’s so special about you?”, my mind rolled her eyes.
The baths are steaming hot. You’d have to put a foot in first, then slowly lower yourself into the water. Once you’re all the way in, the heat and weightlessness takes over all your senses. All your thoughts go away. Nothing matters any more. You feel safe, comforted, whole. Unlike the bath you run at home, these baths do not get cold. That hot spring water is a life force so generous and strong that it instantly fills you all the way up and you get to stay there in that state of fullness.
An hour and a half went by and I put on my yukata again to meet my husband. He also reported an amazing time in the pools. We then ordered a cold beer, hot tea, cold udon noodles and skewers of my favorite parts of chicken, only available in Japan: fried chicken skin and fried chicken cartilage.