Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Slow-furo Life -- In Kansai

Soon it will be getting hotter, and time for some hardcore relaxing. I need to be outside to really relax. Back in Tucson I had a great porch where I would sit, listen to shortwave radio and have a few beers. Well I'm not in Tucson anymore and shortwave reception in Japan isn't that good anyhow--at least for English language stations. So what do I do instead? Go to the onsen! Of course! Here are my top four places for a nice 昼風呂 (hiruburo) or afternoon bath during the hotter months in Kansai. So take a day off, head to the onsen and relax the day away.

All links point back to
Kansai Onsen Review, my other blog, where you'll find more information on finding these great spots, prices, and other information.

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1. Arimafuji Onsen Hanayama no Yu.
A short bus ride past the last major stop in Kansai on the JR Fukuchiyama line that heads out from Osaka to the Japan Sea. You'll feel the wide spaces and rural scenes without going too far. The afternoon breeze that flows through the little valley where this onsen is located feels great and is never too cold. Combine that with the view and the waterfall baths the entire scene nearly puts you to sleep. Oh, and while you're there you can hit a few balls at the golf practice range in the same building.


2. Nada Onsen Suidomichi
A nice lukewarm bath on a warm day will put you straight to sleep. Heat up in one of Nada's other great baths then find a spot in the sardine can which is the gensen bath. Gensen (原泉) is the straight water from the well at the temperature it naturally flows at. At Nada the water flows at a near body temperature and is very carbonated. This means that it ends up feeling like you have no body at all, a kind of sensory depravation for everything below your head. The little bubbles that build up on your skin also enhance this feeling. Pure bliss. Grab a beer from one of the great old vending machines across the street and head to one of the near by parks afterwards to really make it a day out.


3. Ebisu Onsen
Take a nice relaxing train ride down to Akashi. Watch the coast line float by and go under the Akashi-Kaikyo bridge on your way to this great little sento. The lukewarm gensen bath in the little glass roofed patio that makes up the rotenbro will put you asleep. Get there when they open at 3pm on a weekday to really enjoy yourself by yourself. Otherwise, it might be a bit too crowded.

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4. Hanayama Onsen
Same as going to Ebisu, but the other direction. Head down the coast to Wakayama and enjoy some of the best water anywhere. It's opaque and brown like watered down clay. When you see the unworldly shapes and forms the brown calcium deposits make on the bath, you'll know that you've found something special. Various temperatures of the 4 baths lets you heat up and cool down all you want to achieve that state of being completely relaxed. The rotenbro looks out to a simple, but beautiful, Japanese garden. A great place to let the cool air flow over you body.

These are some of my favorite onsen. I hope you get a chance to enjoy them as much as I do when I enjoy the slow life in Japan.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Porn In Vending Machines | See But Not Notice

PornVending-Sakuragawa-1, originally uploaded by sleepytako.

I don't know what books and classes it came from, but I've been taught there's a cultural trait of Japanese to not notice things. Better said, to notice things, but not pay them any heed. Loud kids on the train, people littering, not stopping at stop signs, drunk salary men passed out on a park bench, drunken gaijin speaking loudly, porn in vending machines are good examples. I'm sometimes drawn back at this power to disregard things. Once walking through a redlight district in Osaka, one where girls sit in doorways while the Mama-sans call out to men walking down the street, I witnessed a family riding their bikes oblivious to their surroundings more than once. I wish I could have taken a picture of the scene, but my nerves said that might not be the best idea. I wondered what happens when the little daughter asks what are those pretty girls doing all dressed up sitting there. I wonder if they even ask.

I saw this vending machine next to a chain discount store near Sakuragawa station in Osaka. The machine had 16 magazines in it all around ¥700. As I was taking the photo, late in the evening mind you, 2 elementary aged children walked behind me.

Am I bothered by this. No. I find it all so interesting. I love juxtaposition, if that is what this is.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Suidosuji Tagging

Suidosuji-Tag, originally uploaded by sleepytako.

Graffiti in the Suidosuji area of Kobe.
神戸の水道筋商店街でグラフィティー を見つけた。

Restaurant Review: O'kiny Kurakuenguchi

Okiny-ChigeNabe, originally uploaded by sleepytako.

I love Korean food. It's nice and spicy. There's lot's of meat. It can't be beat.

O'kiny is a new chige restaurant near Kurakuenguchi. It serves chige a spicy stew that's eaten over rice reminiscent of Japanese nabe. This was my first time having it and it was great. The stew and rice come in the pots they were cooked in. You scoop the rice and stew into a third bowl and eat it from there with a spoon. When you're done the waitress will fill the rice bowl with hot tea and you can scrape the super good burnt rice off side of the bowl and eat it too. If you're afraid of it being too spicy you can choose from 5 spicy levels. I had 3, the second hottest, which was just perfect. The meal comes with all you can eat Korean nori, bean sprouts, and spicy cucumber also, if the chige was not enough.

This was my first time having chige so I don't have anything to compare it with, but I loved it. Lunch was about ¥1,300 (around $13USD).

O'kini is a little walk up Shukugawa river from Kurakuenguchi station on the Hankyu Koyo line in the Sunny Garden building.

O'kini Homepage

Google Map