Hotter than hell – but better!

There are no fast trains to Kinosaki. The local train you catch in Fuchikiyama is full of (during the week elderly) people who all want to enjoy the hot mineral springs in Kinosaki. There are seven public bathes and many ryokan (Japanese inns) with onsen bathes (hot mineral water). Onsen is a national cult in Japan. They are crazy about this as they also are very health conscious.

Here in Kinosaki all people do is walk around trying out the different public bathes, eat and rest! We too. Because, frankly, there is nothing else to do here. We are out of luck with the weather. It’s drizzling all the time. Otherwise we could do a little hiking.

The shops in Kinosaki are full – not only with souvenirs and tourists but also with crab. Everywhere crab.

I was really looking forward to that. In November crab season started at the North Japanese sea here. What I had not taken into account was that I am already very privileged living in Hanoi where we buy my crabs alive – at a fraction of the price that they cost here. OK, we do not have the long-legged spider-crabs in Hanoi – but the rest are more than good enough for me. Why spend so much money when soon I can have as much as I want…

What I had instead was the “usual” combination:

a little sake

…and a “hint” of sashimi:

Oh, people do not just wander around the little town. They are all dressed up in their Yukata, the traditional light cotton kimono. You receive it upon arrival at your inn. Our landlord pleaded that we should wear it, and only it, all day long – at home in the inn, when going to a public bath or even in restaurants and bars. Last night we could not do it as it was bloody cold outside with a strong cold wind and My was shivering enough without the light Yukata.

I must look particularly funny as they did not have geta (the local wooden sandals) in a size that would fit my duck feet. Surprisingly they found a kimono big enough to wrap it around my sumptuous body. Maybe I look like a sumo wrestling trainee with German Birkenstock shoes.

Yesterday I had to take the first public bath alone as my My, with her completely different Vietnamese background, had never been naked in a public space before and was afraid of the experience of doing “a great wrong”. So, we managed last night to arrange for a private bath in our inn – as a starter for My and I explained to her how everything would work – as men and women are separate and I could not be with here to support her. This morning, when we took our first public bath at 7.30am in preparation for breakfast she was brave enough to face the challenge.  I believe from now on things will be much easier…

Especially after such a breakfast in our room:

As expected, there is no internet in our ryokan and I won’t be walking around town in a kimono with a laptop under my arm to find a Wifi spot.

It is 2.30pm and I have just come back from another round of hot bath soaking. Now it’s sipping an Asahi beer and relax until we go to the bath again around six pm before going for dinner…sometimes life is tough and you have to be strong…

These lines were written two days ago. Yesterday we have left Kinosaki and after a stop-over in Nagoya, the Toyota city, arrived back in Tokyo tonight.




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