79 CH79: Onsen

    "What's the good of resisting temptation?

    There'll always be more."

    - Mae West


    It was early morning in Kyoto, where the chilly wind breezed through the air, sending chills to the livings outside. As usual, the three women; Delilah, Shay and Farah, walked around to look for a vending machine to buy their morning canned coffee drink. Feeling cold, they decided to buy a hot canned drink to warm their insides. When they finally found one, Delilah noticed that the price was slightly higher than the ones in Tokyo, a difference of one yen. And after they were done drinking, they immediately headed straight for the train station. They did not want to waste time standing around when they didn't really have much time staying in Kyoto.

    That morning, they were planning to go to a hot spring or as they called it, 'onsen'. It had been recommended by many people to go to an onsen during the cold season so they took note of it. The women didn't bring anything with them, other than their handbags and so forth. This was because in the website of the onsen, all the necessities, such as towels and soaps were provided there. They too do not want to bring too much with them since they were planning to go somewhere else straight after the bath so having the onsen providing those items were convenient for them.

    The journey to get to the onsen that they wanted was kind of far. It was basically at the end of the train route, which in Delilah's opinion, wasn't surprising, considering the fact that the onsen was in the mountaintops. They had to exchange more than five stations to reach the final station and when they finally reached there, the wind was more cold than before. The wind was much stronger there than back at their ryokan.

    Delilah rubbed her hands together to gather more warmth and cupped her mouth, thinking that the hot air might bring some warm to her face. Getting off the train and walking out of the station, the three of them gathered together in front while waiting for Delilah's direction. The latter took out her phone to read the directions and according to the directions given in the website, they would need to get on a free shuttle bus to reach the onsen. After they reached the bus stop, it would only be a ten minute walk from the bus stop to the onsen itself. The onsen was actually an inn as well.

    They quickly walked over to where the sign for the shuttle was and waited for the bus. They didn't wait for long when the bus arrived. And when they finally reached the onsen, there were two paths; the right path led to the onsen, whereas the left path led to the inn. Since they only came for the onsen, they went to their right. The inn itself was huge, where the walls were made of wood, instead of the normal bricks. And it has ceiling to floor windows, enabling them to see the insides of the inn. The inn reminds Delilah of those wood lodges you'd see in America.

    Before they entered the onsen, they saw a vending machine just before the entrance. As they walked closer to it, they realized it was where they would need to pay for the entrance fee. There was also an additional fee for those who wanted to rent other items such as towels. They pressed the button for the fee and towels and went in.

    There wasn't anyone inside to greet them, other than a cleaner who gave them a bow and a smile.

    They followed the signs where the lockers were and when they stepped in, they were greeted by warm air. Shortly after, a couple of elderly women walked out from what they assumed to be the entrance to the onsen. The two elderly women gave them a smile as they headed towards their locker.

    Soon after, there were only Delilah and her two cousins in the locker room. They quickly remove their clothing and put on the bathrobe which was provided inside the locker. They also put on the slippers that were provided and went out of the locker room.

    Outside at the onsen, the view was mesmerizing and breathtaking as cool air swept over the three women. Behind the onsen were some trees, surrounding the onsen from behind the bricked wall. The onsen was designed like a swimming pool, with hot air steaming out. There were small wooden buckets on the side of the onsen, separated one by one in a few meters. One side of the onsen had a roof above it, though it was out in the open. On the right of the onsen was where the shower stalls were located, inside.

    The three women were confused as to where they should dip in. Although there was also a hot tub inside, just to the left of the onsen, they felt that it would be boring as they wanted to experience the one outside.

    Feeling chilled to the bones, they quickly looked around, looking for a place to hang their bathrobe when they saw the hangers just beside the shower stalls entrance.

    The three of them looked at each other. "So, are we supposed to get naked?" Delilah asked hesitantly.

    "I guess so..." Shay answered slowly.

    "Out here?" Delilah asked again, looking hesitant.

    Farah immediately walked over to the hangers and opened her bathrobe, revealing her body. She then nonchalantly walked over to the onsen and slipped inside. She closed her eyes and moaned in bliss. "That felt so good!"

    Delilah and Shay could only watch her with their wide eyes as Farah languidly lowered her body in the onsen, leaving her head visible. Noticing her two cousins still standing in the cold, the latter turned her head and said, "Come on and join me!"

    Delilah and Shay looked at each other and shrugged. The two of them walked to the hanger area and opened their bathrobe. Together, they walked to the onsen and slipped inside.

    As they sat down inside the onsen, only their heads visible above the water, they too groaned in bliss. It felt like all their tiredness and fatigue had swept away, along with the water. The water felt hot but comfortable. It really does make one fall asleep due to the pleasant feeling it brought. And it was no wonder that most Japanese people love going to the onsen.

    They spent nearly an hour at the onsen, basically relaxing and bathing. Once they were done, they had a quick shower before leaving the place. The hot shower was pleasing as well after that brief little chill that they experienced, getting out of the onsen. And when they were back at the station, they could feel their weariness gone. After days of walking around in Tokyo at the wards, they felt more refreshed than ever.

    Since they have more than enough time that day, they decided to eat some brunch. They headed for the nearest ramen shop and had their meal there. The ramen shop wasn't that big as it probably could hold less than ten customers at once. For cold weather, a hot broth was perfect to warm their bodies, hence, the ramen.

    The ramen wasn't so bad, just a bit bitter, which was strange. Delilah never expected that there was a ramen that wasn't as good as she expected. It tasted like the broth had more water than taste. Nevertheless it was still edible and she liked that it was still hot so she did not mind at all. They also ordered some tempura to eat with their ramen.

    By the time they were done with their meal, it was nearly lunch time. They then decided to spend the time to go sightseeing, walking around. At first, Shay suggested going to Gion [1] but Delilah said that it would be better to go there during the evening. If they were lucky, they probably might be able to see a geisha [2] or a maiko [3]. So, they went to Fushimi Inari Taisha [4] instead. Along the way, they stopped by several small shops where they sell souvenirs and snacks.

    At one point, they stopped at one of the shops that sells mochi. The three women were mesmerized at how the woman makes mochi, using a machine, rather than the traditional pounding. While they were heading there, there were also many people heading there as well. They couldn't be sure whether they were visitors or the locals. When they arrived at the shrine, there were many people already there, going here and there. There were some who took pictures and prays.

    The three women did the touristy things; taking wefies, taking pictures of the shrine and other interesting structures. At first, they wanted to go deeper, climbing up the hill. But seeing how crowded it was, they forgo the notion and instead, went out of the shrine.

    Next, they wanted to go to Bamboo forest. Then they changed their mind again when they saw how far it was. So, for the whole afternoon, they went exploring other places such as the Nishiki Market [5] and Kyoto Tower [6]. They had fun exploring the places, meeting friendly locals and tasting the delicacies that they had to offer.

    When night was about to descend, they took a train to go to Gion street. And when they arrived there, the place was still a bit quiet, even if it was before six o'clock. But they were happy to find the cafes were already opened. So they decided to have a little snack before exploring Gion street. They entered one of the cafes and were greeted by a warm smile from the waiter.

    The cafe was like those typical Japanese cafes with wood texture design and greenery surroundings. The atmosphere was quite cosy as well. And after being guided to an empty table, the three women make themselves comfortable. They took a long time, trying to choose what to order that they felt bad for the waiter who was waiting patiently for them. In the end, they told him that they would call him once they confirmed their orders.

    With a nod of understanding, the waiter went back to the back. But before leaving the table, he instructed them to press for the bell to call for him, politely pointing at the button on the table.

    Thanking him, the three women continued looking through the menu, still contemplating on what to choose. A few minutes later, they finally decided on what to eat. Of course, they ordered some hot drinks. Delilah ordered hot matcha, together with a cheesecake. Shay and Farah too ordered hot matcha, but they ordered pudding and chocolate cake respectively.

    While waiting for their food to arrive, they began to chat, showing each other pictures that they took from their phone. They waited for another couple of minutes when their food finally arrived.

    When the waiter placed the cheesecake in front of Delilah, her eyes widened and she became excited. The cheesecake was quite small, enough for one person. And when she poked on the sides, it jiggly moved. She poked more. She could feel how fluffy and jiggly the cake was. As she cut through the cake, she saw how moist it was too. As she took a bite, she could feel the cake slowly melted in her mouth. It has a more fluffy and sponge-like texture, compared to the other cheesecakes that she had tasted. It was a bit sweet with that rich and creamy texture. It was really nice that Delilah licked the plate clean. Of course, Shay and Farah managed to taste a bite before Delilah devoured them all.

    After they were done, they did not immediately set out to explore, instead, they spent another few minutes, chatting inside the cafe. They were tired from walking around since morning so they wanted to take a break before exploring Gion. Soon after, they walked on the Gion street, where the nightlife was bustling with people walking around. There were some people taking pictures and window-shopping. It was a quaint little street, where lights from the houses on the side brightened the street. Delilah liked the fact that just by walking down the street, one does not feel rushed like what she felt when she was in Tokyo. Rather, it was peaceful and relaxed.

    The three women spent the night walking around, window-shopping as well. They even managed to take a picture of a Maiko walking around with her attendant. In short, it was quite a productive day for them. From morning until the evening, they did everything that they could and really enjoyed the day.

    Next morning, they will be heading to Osaka, which will be another story to tell. For now, it will be back to reality for these three women, where after Osaka, they will be heading back to Tokyo, spent a night at a capsule hotel before heading back to their country, ending their Japan journey.


    [1] Kyoto's geisha district

    [2] Female Japanese entertainer

    [3] Apprentice geisha

    [4] Head shrine of the kami Inari

    [5] Marketplace in downtown Kyoto

    [6] Observation tower
Previous Index Next