Monday, June 22, 2009. 7:32am Japan Time.
This morning I woke up probably around 2am because the air conditioner was turned off and it was getting hot and moist from the onsen, even though it was outdoors and there is a room between where we sleep and it. :} By sheer luck, I got up and in almost complete darkness (I used the light from an adjacent room in order to allow Terinati to continue sleeping) managed to turn it on. After that, I fell asleep readily again and woke up deliriously comfortable on our futons, which are cushy and squishy beyond anything I've ever imagined sleeping on. I was prepared to sleep on something as hard as the tatami itself! Showed me!
No sign of Mr. Roach or his friends when I went to shower, and breakfast was a bit better than dinner had been. There was no sushi with eyes (I like sushi, but I can't eat anything that is still looking at me), and there was a delicious soup with squash in it. YUM! Still, I needed a break from Japanese food at this point. I'm sick of miso soup and just can't have any more of it for the time being. It comes with nearly everything, so I needed something different for my pallet. I would be upset by this, but it's not that I don't like eating Japanese food; it's just like if I were at home because if I were, I'd be eating different kinds of foods every day. It was time for something new! Especially because not all of breakfast was that tasty either.
Today was a day I've been planning for since I learned we were coming to Hakone! We rode the bus out to Yunessun!! It is a water resort, mostly for several different types of onsen. We were there nearly five hours having a pretty good time! One of the things I found interesting about Yunessun before we even arrived there is that you can rent swimsuits. =^o0^= Most Americans would react the way I did initially: “What? Eww!” But, I have some food for thought on the topic.
First of all, many people are grossed out by the idea of stepping into a boiling bath, an onsen, that usually comes from a hot spring or some other source that probably kills of any living bacteria by its sheer heat alone, not to mention any other natural minerals or salts that may be included depending on the location. This reaction initially made sense to me because these onsen are, according to my reading, never emptied (unless there is a lot of debris that needs to be cleaned out, I'm guessing, from leaves or something; each one I've seen thus far has some sort of drain attached, though they have yet to be used). However, the premise of the onsen is that a person must thoroughly clean themselves before going in it. Most of my friends find this disgusting, and yet we'd readily step into a hot tub with other people we don't know in a random hotel who may or may not have bathed recently. :o
But someone may say, “In that situation, you're wearing a swimsuit!” And, that's where the rental swimsuits come in. Does it really make a difference? If you're getting into a vat of boiling water, does it matter if you're clothed or not or who is in there with you? And, does that thin extra skin prevent you from obtaining diseases passed around in a common-place swimming pool in America?! GAHH! No, it doesn't! I mean, it'll prevent dirt, sand, and other obvious things, but if you consider that there are over 20,000 STDs that go right through condoms (most people don't know this and I find it sad :/ ), then a swim suit can probably only do so much against the things that people are truly scared of.
So, after having thought this all out . . . an onsen seems insanely clean in comparison to swimming pools that we use without flinching. Heck, even the trains are cleaner here (we watched in awe two days ago before transferring onto our final train as several men and women dressed in blue and pink respectively went through and cleaned each train car before we were allowed on). The pain-staking care that the Japanese put into keeping everything clean for everyone . . . I bow down to it. To those who are afraid of onsen, I hope that this gives you some courage!
However, I had other problems. Even though I've lost tons of weight, I've never worn a bikini before and I'm always shy showing any skin in public, so this was hard for me at first. I did not allow it to mar my enjoyment of Yunessun, though! The onsen they have are incredible! We bathed in coffee, wine, green tea, sake, charcoal, and my new all-time favorite, chocolate. I could have possibly spent the whole day soaking in the chocolate! There are short slides, and the park seems geared toward kids in the actual pools for which there is swimming, but we still had a great time. :)
Yunessun was even more cool than I expected. To my pleasure, their mascots were a family of square-shaped cats! Adorable! We purchased a small tin of butter-crackers that had their likenesses on it so that we could remember them forever. On the first floor is a trick art museum that you have to pay to go in to, so we didn't go. But, from looking at the stuff they were selling outside of it, it featured the sorts of things like the picture of a woman who, if you look at it one way looks like an old woman, and another way looks like a young one.
The second floor was a small arcade. Most of the games didn't make sense to us, but it was really fun to look through all the things there anyway. :)
The third floor featured shopping and entrances to cafes and restaurants, as well as pamphlets in English on your way up to the fourth floor. There are two parts of Yunessun; one part where you can walk around naked, and another where you have to wear a swimsuit. We only used the swimsuit side.
The coolest thing about Yunessun was that not only do you get a locker big enough to hold things for an entire family (in America, the lockers for places like this are always small, so small that you carry only a wallet with you, and then you constantly go back and forth to get it to pay for things), but you get a wristband that you can wear in the water. The wrist band has the number of your locker, and when you wave it in front of the pad on your locker, it locks or unlocks it for you! But wait, there's more! Since carrying yen around with you would be inconvenient, the wrist band also acts as your tab for your stay at Yunessun! You don't even need to dress up to go to a restaurant for lunch! They scan your wristband, and off you go!
Also, I was happy to discover that you get a wrap as well as a towel so that you are not exposed until you are ready to get into an onsen or pool. It was all very convenient, clean, and fun. :) However, if you think that by staying on the swimsuit-only side that you won't have to get naked in front of people, you'll be wrong unless you wear your swimsuit under your clothes. In every water park I've been in within America, there was a changing room, or girls would change in the bathroom if they were really shy, and that's no problem. However, at Yunessun I was startled to find that there were only the locker room, a bathroom that has a sign specifically requesting that you don't change in there (which makes sense, considering how differently they treat their restrooms than we do in America), and a shower room where you also can't change. =^oo^= I wouldn't have been so nervous to change in front of women, but several women had brought their little boys into the locker room and didn't seem a bit concerned by the fact that they were literally staring at me! I felt like I was putting on a strip show for children, but no one seemed to mind and thankfully, I was in my bikini quickly enough.
The rest of the day we spent on the romance car, the Hakone cable car, and then the rope car. Unfortunately, it got too misty for us to see Mt. Fuji again! Curse you, mist! :} It was a fun ride anyhow, though. :)
On the way back to the hotel for dinner, I convinced Terinati to stop at a 7-11 for food just in case dinner was bad again so that we could just retire to the hotel room and eat. However, tonight's dinner was very delicious, if a bit startling. It was all seafood, and the kind I very much like! As with the last two meals here, one of the servers explained something on the table we had to cook to enjoy. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw the clam wiggle a little in front of Terinati, but decided I must have imagined it. Then, while he was talking, my clam moved around tons. My eyes must have been HUGE, and I totally missed how to cook the poor thing, so it was good that Terinati was paying attention. Once the server was sure Terinati knew what to do, he lit up the fire beneath the clams and I watched with sorrow and apologies to the clams that they were being cooked alive in front of us. I think the server overheard me at one point, but I am not ashamed! :} I know food gets killed before I eat it, but watching something be cooked alive is different than killing something and then cooking it. However, perhaps that is how all clams must be cooked?
Despite feeling sorry for the clam and worrying that it would squirm again as I cut into it (it doesn't look that different when it's dead!!), it was very delicious! There was also fish and a divine stew . . . and miso, which I quickly passed up. So, to my delight, dinner was very good!
Then again, as I was sitting here, Terinati got up and had to spray a roach. :p He claimed that he had “gotten it” despite my reservations as he went to the sink room to get tissues or toilet paper to pick it up and dispose of it, and then came back to find that it was gone. Trying to make it an optimistic situation, he said that the roach, now covered in poison, would bring the poison back to its home. I am unconvinced that this is enough to eliminate a roach problem. :p It's even more disturbing to me because now it's not just in the rooms with water, but the very room adjacent to where we sleep. I don't care if they don't bite; I don't want to accidentally take a roach home with us in our luggage and have it infest our apartment. * shudder * Or anywhere else we stay in Japan. YUCK! I didn't even see any holes in here, so where did that thing come from? UGH! . . . Sadly, because of that, I don't think I can stay at this hotel again. I know it must be hard to get rid of roaches once you have them, especially when you run a business like this, but I feel like I shouldn't have to worry about roaches getting into my luggage, or my towel, or my clothes, or anywhere in my space while I'm paying this much money to be somewhere. :} I don't know what Japanese standards are in regard to this, but I have a hard time believing that if it were in someone's personal home, they wouldn't be worried about all of the problems that come with roaches. Sadly, I almost can't wait to leave this hotel just to get away from my concerns about how serious the roach problem is and the potential consequences. :/ I guess I just have to hope that was the last of the roach experiences. Mew? On a comforting note, I'm sure that Inside Japan Tours didn't know about it when they set up the place. We should probably let them know; I don't think the roaches are going away any time soon, considering the reaction to them. Spray is not sufficient for killing off such sturdy, crafty things!
. . . I miss my Stardust kitty, on so many levels!!
Anyway, I'm going to have some sweets before heading to bed, so I'll talk tomorrow! Hopefully I will have internet again at our next location, but we'll see what happens.