Spa World again: Another month, another spa

Osaka Travel Blog

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Random Observation/Comment #37: Even the white guy speaks better Japanese than me. Excuse me while I hide my head in shame.
After the gruesome experience of walking the bicycle home for two hours, I felt it impossible to do my original goal of bike riding from Ishibashi Station to Umeda Station. The bike ride to school would be a cake walk (never really understood this analogy, but whatever) compared to the distance from my dorm to the river. I hear there are large hills and a lack of bicycle friendly main roads heading towards the city. Not to mention the fact that I had a flat tire. I considered Nara, Kyoto, Kobe, and Nagoya for possible choices of travel for this Sunday, but it was just one of those days where all I wanted to do was nothing.

Of course, I couldn’t just do nothing – I had to do something. The challenge would be doing something that required little attention, and yielded the most replenishment. This is when I remembered that Spa World changes floors for men and women on alternating months. I had a completely new Spa World to experience, so I obviously couldn’t pass up the opportunity. With the intention of spending at least 2500 yen for the day, I was pleasantly surprised when three hours cost only 1000 yen. Maybe it was a special day, or they knew that I was coming so they dropped the price for me (and everyone else). I’m going to choose the latter to make me feel more important. This month was the Asia theme.
Although Asia sounded like the more attractive choice in the beginning, my experience there left me slightly disappointed.
I think I was spoiled by the large number of choices and waterfalls from the European spa. There were much less baths and this lack of a waterfall really bothered me. My original complaint about the European baths was that there were too many selections that repeated in every themed area, but I’d like to flip this con into a pro. People don’t stick around one area too long anyway, so if you find a place you like, it is more likely that other people will walk to different baths. Those who are going for their first time (like me) always feel this obligation to go through all of the rooms and say they’ve tried everything Spa World had to offer. In today’s case, I was left sitting there with a more frequent cycle of newcomers, making noise and attacking my personal space.
It’s not homophobia, but when my leg is almost touching another naked man’s leg, I get a little claustrophobic.
Here is a rundown of what to expect of the Asia Spa:
When you walk in, there is a grand bath with perfect temperature water, similar to that of the Europe Area. There are three little streams of water pouring from a clay statue on the left, which vaguely resembles a waterfall – this was actually where I spent most of my time. I feel like I’ve grown accustomed to normal bathing, and I want to be surprised with something unique like a different colored water or a huge fountain with bubbles. Whatever the surprise, I tend to choose getting a massage by water than just soaking in other people’s dirtiness.
Walking out of this main room, there is “Dr.
Spa” on the left. In this area, there is a salt sauna, a cloudy watered bath, a warm bath, and 3 single lawn chairs immersed in a warm bath. I guess they added this portion because they needed another section to fill in the baths that aren’t traditionally Asian.
Continuing left, there is the outside Japanese traditional onsen with more natural scenery. The sides of the pools were filled with rocks that really hurt my back leaning against them, but I’ve always liked the extra sun. They even have the large wooden tubs that look like they can be used for brewing sake. I wound up sitting in one of these and playing with the smaller wooden ladles like a rubber ducky. I found it fascinating because it still stays afloat even when it’s completely filled with water – probably because it’s completely made of wood.
I’ve concluded that the outdoor places are the best as long as it’s warm and not raining. The natural humidity acts as a combined sauna and water bath.
The next area (which I think was also Japanese) had two large baths, two hot coal saunas, and a sleeping area. The sleeping area consisted of a line of foam mats with wooden, cylindrically-shaped pillows. Let me tell you, if you like comfortable, this isn’t the place for you, because it’s the opposite of comfortable. It’s the pure essence of sleeping on the floor. There was a nice breeze from the air conditioning conveniently placed above, and if you close your eyes you might be able to imagine the warm breeze blowing against your naked body on a nice beach. Of course, when you open them, you’ll find that you’re naked lying next to middle-aged/old naked men.
This sounds like a version of the “forbidden hello.”
The last area was actually mostly for the body scrubbing room, but it did have a bubbly Jacuzzi with a great view of a gold fountain. This Jacuzzi made me feel like I was a king with my own private place to bathe, surrounded by my international treasures acquired from my conquests of neighboring countries. (It’s probably just me and my crazy imagination.)
There were a few other rooms, but they were all for taking showers before leaving the place. In no way were you cheated out of any particular type of sauna/cold bath/hot bath, but the reduced number of selections did make me feel this way. Clemens, the typical American, looking at quantity instead of quality. Or Clemens, the typical American, always moving to the next experience instead of treasuring the current one.
Or Clemens, the typical American, over-scheduling his life even when he’s on vacation. Mmm – there’s much to learn from other cultures.
Before leaving Spa World, there is a checkout machine that you pay for the expenses of the wristband. In return, you get a ticket that makes the turnstiles work for the exit. I think there’s a huge flaw in this system, but they probably took it into account. What stops a person from paying for the 3 hours and then getting the ticket to leave later? You could basically sleep there in those lounge chairs and not have to pay for those overnight fees, right? I don’t think it’s worth the extra $3 or $5 that you’d be saving, but I’d be curious to see if they thought about the scenario.
~See Lemons Thoroughly Replenished

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Random Observation/Comment #: A notepad was a great investment. It is highly suggested for all who are traveling.
Bring on the Japanese beers and games! Halo2 in Japanese =). This night reminded me of home, except it was with a Japanese version of the game and funny light-weight research students (instead of funny light-weight Justin). I drank 5 cans of Asahi (500ml), which comes to about 2.5L. Now that I look at 2.5L, I have no idea how I could even drink that much liquid, let alone stand (and continue to play more video games afterwards). The only person that out drank me was the tall Irish guy that gets very violent when drunk. He was looking for his lucky charms or something. Everyone else had the tolerance of freshmen girls at frat parties. Unfortunately, there were no freshman girls.

From what I’ve heard, their training was even less than what I had at Cooper. Most of the college students here actually concentrate on studying (which might have been also true at Cooper). The students here are, sadly, too diligent to see the lighter side of life. They should really teach us young adults to have fun in a semi-responsible manner (at least to the point where we’re conscious of each action’s consequences). Cooper students needed this as a class – call it “A non-awkward social gathering 101.” It’s not a bad thing to socialize and have friends to see every weekend. It’s even better when you have more than one group of friends to share this experience.
What I’ve found to be true in the last few weeks is this lack of memory for college knowledge.
I have the work ethic engrained into my brain, but this doesn’t mean I recall every lecture or even concept of my classes. I could probably say “yeah, I’ve heard of that theorem” or “I took a class in that before” but the end of those sentences would be “I don’t remember, it was more than three months ago.” I’ve always wanted application of these theories and more hands-on experiments to build something. It’s when I have a larger objective that I take interest in learning all of the bits and pieces it takes to get this product. The hard part about these classes is, of course, the fact that making a product takes much more than an one type of engineer. There are so many different parts and considerations on all ends in order to adhere to all the standards for possible marketing.
And then after you’ve done all of this, you’ve realized that someone else beat you to it and made it even better. It’s quite frustrating, so I’m losing interest in the private business aspect. I’ll always be an inventor of all sorts, but I don’t think what I make will be more than an added convenience with many personal tweaks.
Anyway, Japan’s drinking class is rampant at night. They really follow the “work hard, play hard” motto. It’s as if they have so much built up frustration from being extraordinarily polite during working hours that they need to break free with the help of Jack and Daniels. A drunken businessman is hilarious to watch. He will do and say the most vulgar things in the presence of women. I think they break every sexual harassment law from work just because A) they can’t do it at work and B) they’re no longer at work.
I’m used to the stuff Jake and James does, but this goes far beyond the normal “damn, girl” and creepy stares. The girls from the JETs told me that they say things like “let’s go to a business hotel and have sex – I’ll buy you dinner first.” I guess if you say it with the right inflections in your voice, it could be a joke. Maybe James can pull it off with the high pitch voice, but the Japanese accent can’t even get passed the first word. No matter how you look at it, the pent up anger can’t be healthy.
Back to the story about the night: We drank, I got wrecked by these pros in Halo2, found that old song “The Land of 1000 Dances” (where it goes naaa nanananaaa nananana nananana nananaaaa – great song), and then I found River City Ransom on a flash game. I wound up sleeping on my chair at 4AM while programming the rest of that function. I woke up at 7AM and decided to go to Kyoto and start walking around. I was a zombie, but the nature was a good way to cure a hangover. It was so bright and loud – calm down, sun.
~See Lemons Kanpai!

photo by: yasuyo