As I sit in my apartment eating strawberry flavored Pocky (with Darth Vadar on the box) and relaxing on a beautiful Monday afternoon here in Kanazawa, I can’t help but think about all the things I’ve been doing. Yes, I’ve been working five days a week and bringing work home with me, but amazingly enough I’ve also found some time to enjoy myself.
Friday night I could not sleep so I went walking around the Higashiyama area of Kanazawa, near the Kazue-machi Chaya and Higashi Chaya Districts of Kanazawa. I crossed a small pedestrian bridge, the Naka-no Hashi. The bridge smells of new wood and houses what seems to be a spider colony. I detest spiders but they do seem to be doing a good job of controlling the mosquito population, so I guess I can’t complain too much about them. On the Owari-cho side of the bridge there is a small park. There are also four stands of paper lanterns. The first night I went the lanterns were not lit. My walk around Higashiyama allowed me to locate a sentō (public bath), but it was closed.
Saturday night after work and a late dinner I went for another walk. This time I took a slightly different route, electing to cross the Ko-bashi Bridge. This route is not as scenic, but it gets the job done. I found my way to the sentō and found it to be hopping with business. Finding a sign with rates and hours/days of operation, I returned to my apartment by way of the Naka-no Hashi Bridge. Once again it was filled with spiders. This time I had my camera and decided to take a few photos of the unlit lanterns.
Sunday I decided to return to and enter the sentō. I put together my little sentō kit: a plastic flat-bottomed bowl, soap, shampoo, face towel, and hand towel. After making sure I had everything I put my kit into a small bag and off I went. If you’ve never been to an onsen or a sentō, I think you should try it, even if it’s just once. Yes, what you’ve heard or read is true – everyone is naked – but it’s not that bad really. Everyone there could care less about the fact that you are naked. Just make sure you do everything in the correct order and you’ll be fine.
Shoes off at the door. Make sure to wash at the little sit down shower area. Make sure all the soap is off your body. Make sure you tie your hair up. Don’t put your towel into the actual baths. Okie, you’re ready to relax and let the stress and tension seep out of your body. Really! I’m serious. The sentō I went to has brown tinged water. I don’t know what kind of minerals it contains but combined with the hot water my muscles are feeling relaxed and my skin was still soft this morning. I think I’ll try to go back next Saturday or Sunday night. It isn’t that expensive (420円), is no more than a 15 minute walk, and it lets me interact with the community on some level.
Of course, since I was going to the sentō I did not have my camera with me. Guess what! The lanterns were lit. Yep, good only Murphy and his law…I am going to head back to there tonight to see if they are lit and get some photos if they are.
Earlier today I went out walking again, taking the Ko-bashi across the river. I found another sentō. This one looked smaller and is about the same distance from my apartment as the one I used. I’m debating going to this one as well and comparing the two. Do they have the same brown tinged water? Do they cost about the same? Is one more popular than the other? I think I like the route to the one I went to better, so that may be the deciding factor.
I hope you enjoyed part one of Hanging at the Sentō and Other Adventures. Please let me know what you think! If you have any questions I’ll do my best to answer them.