If there was a competition for the world’s cleanest country, I have no doubt that the Japanese would win it hands down, or clothes off.
We just visited the venerable Kinosaki Onsen about a two hour train ride from Kyoto on the West Coast. We traveled with two of our grandchildren, uncertain whether or not they would be up for naked bathing in a crowd. One bravely ventured in and the other declined for the obvious reasons.
The self consciousness that American women feel about their bodies is no where evident in a Japanese bath. It’s liberating.
It took me years to get to the point where I too am not self conscious. Maybe it was just a question of letting go of my foolish pride in my younger dancer’s body. Of course it all passes sooner or later, so to expect otherwise is just a delusion. At some point I realized that no one gives a damn what I look like without clothes other than myself. Bodies come in all shapes sizes and conditions and here there is no judgement by other bathers. If there is, I don’t detect it and cannot understand Japanese, so it’s not an issue!
I have come to accept and be grateful for my relatively functional aging body as is at this time in my life.
The canal running through town is bordered by willow trees just leafing out, and festooned with cherry trees, illuminated at night. The iconic scene is punctuated by the high Japanese bridges periodically crossing the river.
KInosaki is an old onsen town that has 7 public baths. I’m not sure how the Japanese go from bath to bath to bath because I’m happily cooked well done after one round of bathing. Nevertheless, visitors in small groups of families or friends. promenade in their yukata(cotton bathrobe) through town, clip clopping in their geta sandals on the stone sidewalks, visiting one onsen after another. The sounds lend a timeless sound track to the setting.
Visiting Kinosaki Onsen makes for an enjoyable getaway and a dip into another facet of Japanese culture not to be missed nor forgotten.