What greeted me next was quite a surprise (even for a liberal thinker such as myself!) & even though I had mentally prepared for it. A sea of women of all ages and a few girls, were changing out of their yukatas in readiness for the best part-the bathing ritual.
Here, I was handed a big towel & a small towel & had brought along a 100 yen coin for the small & final locker. Photography is strictly not permitted here.
Having changed out of my yukata, I entered through the doors & found numerous stations outfitted with low wooden stools, showers & various ranges of liquid soaps shampoos. I picked an unoccupied shower station, turned on the water and gave the little stool a quick rinse. Taking my cue from a mother & daughter team I observed there, I proceeded to wash & scrub every inch of my body. (The hot water of the public bath is meant for soaking, not for cleaning.)
After that, I was faced with many choices. There were pools of all sizes, some with Jacuzzi-like bubbles, a few that were hot and others hotter still and one at the corner which was filled with icy cold water. There was also a small steam room.
After some minutes of peaceful soaking (per Japanese customs, no splashing please!), I wandered in a daze & stumbled outside. It was drizzling lightly but with a clear plastic covering the “roof”, only a bit of water splashed through. I then soaked in a couple of the small hot pools, and soaked in the atmosphere. It was lovely, and I felt completely sensual, free and at ease, absorbing the outdoor scenery, the Japanese gardens, the light blue skies and beautiful women around me.
After that, I returned back indoors and bravely soaked in the the cold pool. Thus invigorated & feeling pleasantly drowsy, it was time to leave.
Entrance Fees: 2,827 Yen for Adults, 1,575 Yen for Children. Extra for massage, foot reflexology, sand sauna.
Yukata-wear the left flap on the outside, over the right. I wore mine the wrong way!Sash can be tied in many ways, usually, with bow at the back.
*Update (2009): The link below which is by the Tokyo Metro Tourist Board is very useful as it describes how to get to the Onsen. It also has 53 different self-guided walking tours for visitors to Tokyo to explore on their own.
If you are visiting Odaiba, you can have a spin or two courtesy of Toyota. The company has built an enormous complex full of their latest vehicles, where mostly the young go to hang about and have a ride on one of the new models in the company of their sweethearts. It is quite the marketing strategy considering the side effects young love can have on people.
My misfortune was that I did not have an international driver’s license and the Russian one that I had, led me to nowhere. Despite the disappointment, I ended up with a Toyota, which has so far recommended itself perfectly.
This is not paid advertisement and I do not work for Toyota!
Odaiba -- the newest area of Tokyo, at the east end of the Rainbow Bridge. This is where Tokyoites come to have fun... there are many attractions, such as Palette Town (huge arcades and a 'virtual reality' attraction), a gigantic Toyota exhibition (where you can test-drive any Toyota model, or ride an 'e-com' electric car right through the building), the unspeakably silly 'Venus Fort' shopping center, and a 90m tall Ferris wheel (admission 900 yen). Nearby is the Tokyo Decks complex, which includes an indoor water park and several bayside restaurants with great views of Tokyo Bay and the spectacular Rainbow Bridge. If you're tired of temples, this is the place to go.