Posted on 2006/03/12 02:10:18 (March 2006).
[Saturday 11th March]
The previous day it had been damp, cold and drizzly, and it had occurred to me it would be really nice to visit an onsen (hot spring) at the weekend. To begin with the prospects were not looking good, we got up really late, and didn't start getting our act together until about 3 in the afternoon. It was very reminiscent of weekends back in the UK, where we'd want to go somewhere, but then completely fail to plan anything. We'd often spend Saturday afternoon looking around on the web for somewhere to go, but end up going nowhere.
However, we managed to find a solution in the end - rather than going for an overnight stay at a hot spring a long way from Tokyo, we decided instead to give Enoshima Spa a go. Enoshima is a little island right next to the coast (connected by a bridge) and is not much more than an hour from where we live. Many onsens have ryokan (Japanese inns) attached, and quite often you can only visit the onsen if you stay overnight at the ryokan. This place however was more like a western health spa - we just turned up and paid for a day ticket. The spa place was a large-ish building, split across four floors. They had a regular onsen style area (separated for men and women) but also communal areas where both men and women could go (provided you were wearing your swimming togs). This worked much better for me - I'd much rather enjoy the experience in the company of Chie, rather than surrounded by a load of strange (and naked!) Japanese men.
Anyway, it was very nice - we basically spent two hours or so lounging around in a variety of hot pools. Some were just regular hot water, some were onsen water (a different colour and chemical composition). There was even one rather gimmicky pool with music playing which you could only hear under water. Some parts were out in the open air, and you could look out to sea from the comfort of the hot water - this was very nice. The only thing lacking was a nice flask of hot sake! Though they had a bar in the building, it had been kept quite separate, probably for safety reasons.
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