Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Japanese Bath

A couple of weeks ago, our running club took a bus full of Americans to do a 10K fun run in the hills of Gunma Prefecture. The run was beautiful but hilly. After the run, everyone was going to a Japanese Bath to get cleaned up so we wouldn't stink up the bus on the way home. My friend, a super hot mom with a 4 year old little boy- who I will call Running Babe, convinced me to join her at the Onsen or Japanese bath. Onsens are like small swimming pools heated by volcanic activity underground. But, you don't swim-- you just sit and relax. The Japanese believe Onsens have healing benefits and they visit them often.

Running Babe told me what to do and the procedures or etiquette to follow: first you strip down completely, and then you must shower off before you enter the Onsen or hot pool. I told her I would do it only if she promised NOT to check out my goods. It is one thing to get naked in front of a bunch of Japanese strangers, but another to get naked in front of your friends while you are sober. (I'm the type of person that has a hard time getting naked at the gym-- so this was a really big deal for me.)

Running Babe had been to many Onsens and treated it like it was no big deal. So, I trusted her and believed her when she said she would NOT look at my naked body. And, I told her that I would not check her out, either. I would keep my eyes on her eyes and nothing else!

So, we strip down and go shower off. I'm in awe at the situation. There are about 25 Japanese women- young and old- in the shower area about to get into the pool of steaming hot water. Most are thin and hairless- if you know what I mean. Keep in mind, I'm a greasy, hairy Mexican-- at this point I am very self conscious! Then, reality sets in- no one's body is perfect (except for super models-- and their bodies are airbrushed in the lay outs of magazines). I feel okay about it. I look around again and a group of older ladies and grandmothers have entered. It's like looking at a National Geographic magazine full of Aborigine women with their boobs hanging down like utters (sorry for that visual). Now, I feel much better. I hop in the bath and relax.

Soon we get out, rinse off and get dressed. I have just been to my first Onsen. Cool! Most Americans are too shy to go, so I feel good and empowered by the experience. Then, we walk back to the bus. This is our conversation as we walked back...
"So, what size are you?" Running Babe asks.
"What do you mean 'what size'?" I ask in return.
"Your boobs! What size are you again?" she asks.
"Why? I'm barely a 34B" I say. "Things went south after nursing Jude for 16 months." I continue to tell her.
"Oh, that's a good size, but you look bigger" she says.
"What?! You looked?! You promised you wouldn't look! What the hell?!!" I yell.
"You didn't think I meant that did you?" she says.
"I can't believe you effing looked! You suck!" I tell her.
"They are nice. I'm shopping around for some and I like yours. They are just the right size" she says.
"Oh, thanks!" I say.

Then, we get back on the bus and head home.

Just another day in Weenie's World!

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