02 October 2015

Smart Americans Prove Themselves Again!

It was a sunny afternoon in Hirosaki, Japan, and Laura-chan and I were heading to Owani for my first onsen (Japanese bath house) experience. Laura had heard from friends that this onsen was amazing and right next to the train station. With joy in our hearts, we alighted from the train to see a grocery store in the distance, surrounded by houses. "Never fear!" we said, "We'll soon find it!"

Forty minutes later, I was sweating like a pig* under my raincoat that I wore to cover my sleeveless tank top, which marked me as a foreigner.  (I know what you're thinking, and you're right: with my raincoat on, I looked exactly like the typical resident of Owani.  It's these little tricks that help you blend in when in foreign countries.  I like to think I'm educating you as you share my exploits.) Anyway, we had walked through town, Laura had called her friends and gotten their voicemails, and we were reduced to begging for directions from a nice middle-aged female checker at a grocery store. She assured us it was two minutes away, "right by the train station".  Following her (unlabeled) map, we charged up a hill and confusedly onto the terrace of a shrine. Realizing our mistake when we saw a priest in the entryway, we turned and charged back down the hill before he could ask us why we had towels. 

Finally, we passed an older woman in her garden, who walked us back down the hill and pointed us across a bridge, assuring us that it was very close, and "right next to the train station".  We were laughing about the encounter two minutes later when a car abruptly veered in front of us and stopped, with the gardening woman jumping out to usher us inside and her son (?) driving. One minute later we arrived at the onsen, which was indeed located right by the (other line's) train station. We thanked our rescuers and  proceeded to wash all our worries (and my pig sweat*) away. Another day, a success!

*Do pigs really sweat that much?  Can anyone explain this?

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you found it in the end! I hear that the people in Japan are, on the whole, very kind and helpful to travelers. Actually I was thinking about the Japanese hotsprings the other day... people go in there naked?! together?! but it's hygenic?! I'd imagine that'd be a quick way to spread disease, but the water IS steaming hot...