Friday, January 1, 2010

Second day in Oita: Mud Bath and Cherry Blossom

First whole day in Beppu and it was time to explore!

I knew I wanted to visit the sand bath and the mud bath. The sand bath was close to the guest house so I went there after breakfast.

Takegawara Spa

I payed a thousand yen (ca. 60 NOK) for entrance to the sand bath and onsen (hot spring). I recieved a yukata robe and changed into it. Then, most importantly, I took a couple of photos before lying down in the sand and having one of the ladies shuffle the warm sand on top of me.

It was heavy. And a little claustrophobical. And after a little while my bare arms started to itch under the weight of the sand.

After 10 minutes I was let free. You're only supposed to lie there for ten minutes. I peeked amidst lying there, finding my inner peace and all, and thought to myself that it looked like a grave yard with the people lying next to each other, a mountain of sand covering us, only to have our heads popping out.

After brushing off most of the sand I got in the shower and removed the rest, before soaking in the hot spring inside the girls' changing room.

It was worth it for the experience, but not exactly mind blowing.

After the sand bath I was ready to explore Beppu's "hells" (jigoku); 9 spectacular hot springs for viewing. I got a "Hell-pass" and got on the bus to get around to the different hells.

Umi Jigoku - "Sea Hell"
The hot spring's so hot
that they boil eggs in it
and sell it to the

I know Japanese people don't know English
but can't they call a friend, or something?

If they look a bit yellow it is not because I suck at editing,
it's because they are Asian

Hello, Kuzco

I was so happy when I found a small blossoming cherry blossom tree near one of the hot springs. Normally the trees won't blossom until spring, but around the hot springs I guess the climate is so warm that they blossom earlier.

Yay, I got to see you even though I'm going home this month

Mud hot spring

Looks tempting to jump in
But then you'd litteraly be boiled alive

Tomato soup!

In between "hells" I went to an outdoor mud bath, and it was pretty neat. The water in the hot spring reached to my hips and it was grey from the mud and you'd pick up hot mud from the ground while you were in the water and smear it on you.

I reeked of sulfur for three days afterwards.

Guess what, I wasn't the only one there!

In the evening when Kei had finished work he picked me up and we went to his house. Which was a long drive. Probably one and a half hour from Beppu.

I thought I live in a Godforsaken place, Kei lives in a Godforsaken place. They don't even have street lights. We drove for 40 minutes in pitch dark without meeting any traffic.

Suddenly a cab-like car passed us and I said "A taxi, here?", but Kei assured me that it wasn't a cab, but in fact a service company providing a driver when you've been to an izakaya (Japanese drinking astablishment) and are too drunk to drive home. Even though people know they are going to get drunk they still drive there, since it's so deserted and the distances are so far, and no other form om transportation is available. Still they have to get home somehow and if they get caught by the police DUI-ing, they get there lisence taken away and then they're really screwed. No way to get around. So they dig into their pockets and pay this company to come and drive their car home.


We stopped for ramen

When we arrived, even though it was pretty late, I was greeted by Kei's family. We chitchated for a while and I gave them my omiyage from Norway before I went to bed, in Kei's 12-year-old sister's room. Aww, I felt like a kid again.

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