Day 176 - Tokyo Bathhouse

Monday, August 1st, 2016
3rd Day in Japan; Yokohama - Tokyo
  • Wake up
  • Pack
  • Double Check
  • Lock yourself out as you juggle luggage
  • Repeat every other day

Shimou and I grabbed lunch at a market near the subway station. We play the game of "Shimou reads the characters and Phil finds the close approximation English word" when reading the sauces that are at our table. This particular example was flench on dressing, leading me to think French dressing. Ranch as a close second.

After breakfast, we wander the market. I stopped in a bookstore, though I don't know why I expected any English. All Japanese - damn.
Figurines lining the top shelf of the store

An Example of how everything
in Japan is cute: This is their
public transit mascot in Yokohama
Difficult Transition

We got lost in the subway and mall systems. The irritating thing about the posted maps is that it always orients the map from what direction you're look. If it's posted on a North wall, it'll have north as up. If you're facing a west wall, West is up. This seems like it might be helpful because you can orient yourself faster, but when you come across another map on your way to your destination, you're all screwed up by this map that's not immediately recognizable as the one you just looked at. 


We eventually caught the train to Tokyo after wandering a bit. Only $7 or $8 CAD to the city. We tried to find our new residence through the instructions given from our Japanese BnB host, but seemed to miss a landmark. We're wandering a narrow street - what the Chinese would call a hutong. Basically, a walking streets with lots of shops. Man, I want to check them out. While Shimou fusses, I learn to leave her alone, having learned not bother her in these times. Instead, I opt to play Pokémon go since we bought data SIM cards from Bic Camera. After occasionally suggesting she just ask someone for directions, she does and they point us in the right direction. Our room is much smaller and more what I expected Japanese living to be. Still nice.

Yummy Ice Cream! Like 1950's Art
Our new digs
The streets of Tokyo are much more lively and flooded than Yokohama, yet still litter-free. Frustratingly, garbage bins are very infrequently placed, forcing you to carry it with you. Or, you know you could just drop it wherever... and yet...


It's baking outside. We cool off in the darkness until it's time to meet up with Lindsay, one of Shimou's friend. She wants to show us a Izakaya: a kind of restaurant that people go after work for drinks and food. They're typically small, often having only barstools to sit at around a small bar.

Instead, we end up in Shinjuku (ward) in a decent restaurant, trying Japanese hotpot, chuan, and alcohol. Lemonade with sake, and plum alcohol with soda, both of which were quite refreshing, enjoyable.

Japanese Hotpot
Lindsay, Shimou, and I in Tokoyo's Redlight District
Lindsay shows us around, bring us to a famous part *cough*RedLightDisctrict*cough* of town called Kabukichō, known for all its strip clubs and host clubs. What's that? Well, a host club is like nonsexual stripclub for female clientele. They market their men with various styles and attitudes. Women rent their undivided attention. High-end Hosts have a no sex rule, while lower-end one's will charge a hefty fee for a little action. I wonder what kind of women go there... There are also normal brothels, too. Lindsay says that each is run by a gang, so the area can be dangerous. Hey, just like back home! I later found out that the gangs weren't Yakuza, as I suspected, but actually African gangs. Huh.

After seeing enough posters for pretty boys and girls, the three of us arrive at a small cafe that has coffee jelly desserts, each of us trying a different one. Mine was coffee jelly with vanilla ice cream, which is as good as any coffee lover will imagine it to be. 

Lindsay saw on her phone a false report of scale 7 earthquakes covering the entire country. She thinks that would destroy the island. Instead, they claim it was thunder that shook the machine and caused a misread. Thank god.

Coffee Jelly with
Vanilla Ice Cream
We part ways at the station, promising to see each other in Beijing. I try some takoyaki on the way home (battered squid balls) and we research a nearby bathhouse.

The Bathhouse
¥600 JPY / $7.60 CAD / $5.90 USD

Bath houses are great if you're completely ok with standing around, being gawked at by Japanese people, who are also naked. There are few more nerve racking situations than having to be blind (no glasses), confused (no english instructions), and naked (no clothes) while figuring out a system that everyone else is familiar with. I never was one of those sports guys who commonly had to change/shower with team or classmates, so this whole scene is not a familiar one to me. The upside to being nearly blind is that you have no idea where anyone is looking, and there's a sort of natural censoring of parts you'd rather not look directly at. 
A Host Club with the Hosts Profiles like Movie Posters
You're supposed to go in, shower, then grab a stool and wash cloth, sit down on this tiny, baby-sized stool in front of a mirror with a tap and showerhead, and wash yourself more thoroughly. I didn't know this, of course, so I grabbed the nearest stool (probably someone else's), plopped down on it, and started going to town. Even blind you can tell when people are looking at you or talking about you. Further practice in not giving a shit. It felt good.

Takoyaki - Tako = Squid, Yaki = cooked (I think)
The bathtubs themselves have several different options of spots for the hot water: waterfall, calm waters, lay back on a "chair" with jets, a more upright chair with jets, and a hot-tub with jets. They also have the cold bath, sitting around 65ºF/19ºC. I'm not sure the health benefits, but they seem to like it. I saw it as tempering willpower, going back and forth between really hot, and painfully cold water.

There's something about rapidly cooling off the body that puts you right to sleep. 
These Japanese, they're on to something...

Word of the Day - Japanese Edition
English - Japanese [pronunciation]


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