Tuesday, August 25, 2009

a night at the on sen

I think that I just drank whole milk in my cereal for the first time in a long time. I cannot be absolutely positive, but it seemed thicker in substance. The only thing I can be sure of in the case of this milk is that it is indeed

"the milk that is milked"

because that is the only English on the whole carton.

Good to know.

I certainly wouldn't want to be caught drinking milk that was not milked!

After having a pretty good matinee today, a group of us decided to visit the Japanese on sen, also known as the baths.

But this place wasn't just baths, believe me. It was food and shops and massages and beauty treatments (they had half and whole--I was very curious to find out what treatment left you looking only half beautiful. And uh, which half, for that matter!?).

Upon entering, you immediately remove your shoes and get to pick out your kimono of choice. Of course I wanted the one that turned out to be the child's pick. Oops. The lady then pointed out the kimono's in Large that would be appropriate for the American beast that I am. I tried to motion to her that they might be too wide for me, but she just kept motioning with her arm outstretched above her head to tell me that I was tall.

That I was large.

Fine, I thought, hand it over.

And I took my large kimono and went to the women's dressing area.

And was transformed.
Uh, I hope it wasn't too racist to put my fingers up like that, but see I couldn't help but flash back to the time I was Lead Chinese in The Nutcracker and well, that was how we bowed. I know, I know, Japanese is not Chinese, but still, it is Asian right?

Since we were all ravenously hungry, we ate first. Unfortunately, I had to order two dinners. And no, not to live up to my large kimono. Rather, the first dinner was completely busted, and so after offering all of it up as free game to my friends, I tried again and landed something much more palatable.

You usually can't go wrong with a bowl of steaming buckwheat noodles in a plain broth.

Rules to live by in Japan.

Then we stayed in the co-ed area (which means you get to leave your kimono on) and walked the foot baths for a while.
There were these rocks that were supposed to massage your feet, but really they just reminded me of walking on my parents' gravel lane without shoes on. Since I lived there and basically did that all the time, I was pretty used to the feeling. Not so much with my friends.
And while we were waiting for the next main attraction, we sat down for a bit and just enjoyed the beauty of the night air and our feet in the warm water.
But finally here was what we were all waiting for.

The pedicure with a twist.

We went into a special foot bath armed with many tiny piranha-like fish whose one job was to eat off the dead skin from your feet.

No lie.

I will admit that the first one to start eating my foot gave me a fright and I inadvertently kicked him off, poor little guy. I mean, he was just doing his job. But really, it's just not natural to allow your feet to be eaten.

But then it felt kind of good.

And after I stopped kicking, a few more fishies tested this latest feast.
But then?

Well, suddenly my feet became the latest Steak N Shake to open below the Mason-Dixon line and these fish were hungry. Trucker hungry. Super-size me, hungry.
And literally, my feet were covered in swarms of them. Not even just my feet, either; these suckers (literally!) were climbing right up to my calves to get some decent dead skin to eat.
Oh, and the jokes were hilarious.

Jess, you should try moisturizing every once in a while!

Hardy har har, guys. As if I don't live my life hating the time it takes to slather my entire body in moisturizer every single day.

Jess, you ever heard of a loofah?

Well, no. Is that some Japanese ninja tool?
But really, it was so cool. And it felt really good. And my feet and calves are now silky smooth, thanks to those crazy fishies.

And then, well, we went to the baths which were separated by sex and it was time to get naked.

Yeah, there are no pictures...

Let's just say it really was relaxing, but of course kind of strange. It's just not part of the American culture to all get naked together and act like it's nothing.

Still we did our best to pretend.
Plus, it helped that we all share a dressing room for the most part, anyway!

And then, once we were fed, bathed, and our dead skin had been eaten off, we were ready for our massages, respectively.
It was an hour.

Of pure bliss.

And some pain when he found the parts of me that really hurt.

But a good pain.

And the best part? He didn't speak a word of English, so couldn't even attempt to make conversation with me.

Which brings me right back to being home again, in my hotel room, drinking milk that is milked, which you already know all about anyway.


peaj said...

Wow, looks like such fun! I'm glad you got to do that.

kathiek said...!! I want to go to Japan RIGHT NOW!! I am going to have to talk to my aesthetician. Maybe we can get these little fishies to work at Pagave!

sherri said...

Wow! Dead skin eating fish? You think they'd make their way to America! Sounds gross but kind of cool at the same time.

What an experience and memory for you.

Michele said...

Wow - what a treat! Why didn't the fish eat regular skin? Was this day of pampering really expensive? (It would be here!)

Emily said...

nothing like a trip to the spa, wherever you are! sounds like so much fun!

James Ricardo The Actor said...

I haven't been yet, but will go before we leave! Tell Anthony Wayne to sit like a lady in that last picture..Cause his junk is falling out! LOL

Jessica Latshaw said...

JR--I saw that too, and all I can say is that we should all be grateful that we were allowed to wear underwear underneath those kimonos!!! And yeah, you should totally go before we leave:)

And Michele--considering I paid for an hour massage, two dinners, entrance fee for the clothes and the baths, and the fish pedicure, it wasn't that bad--about $100 American.

Mom said...

the part about walking on rocks made me laugh! Maybe we should charge people to walk on our path. Also, we could have people stick their feet in the koi pond. But our fish are so large, they could eat the whole foot!

Jessica Latshaw said...

Mom, I saw fish that look just like yours at the Open Air Museum in Hokone on MOnday--you would have loved them!!!

Karenkool said...

The Anthony Wayne comment was too funny.

This sounded divine and I'm quite certain there would be nothing left of my feet after the fish took care of the dead skin. It's that bad.