We have had a really good, full two weeks with our friends Becky (who stayed ten days) and Praise, who stayed about 2 1/2 weeks. They came from L.A. and led our childcare program during our fall conference, and then spent the remaining time with us in Sanda.
Last Thursday we had a great cooking and hula class — Becky taught delicious eclairs; Praise taught everyone how to dance hula to a Hawaiian song. It was a great way to continue relationship building, and even to make a few new friends. One of our friends, Suga, brought her sister, Rika, and niece, a high schooler. They had a great time, and invited Praise and I over this week for lunch. We had a great 3 hours, and the niece shared that she studied the Bible and is interested in Christianity. Rika then invited Praise and I to go on her last night in Japan to the hotel where her husband is a manager that is in a famous hotspring town near here, Arima, and use the hot spring there. We were thrilled!
So the two sisters, Suga and Rika, picked up Praise and I and we went on a wonderful evening adventure. It was probably the nicest onsen (hotspring)I have ever been to. Without the free tickets, it would cost $25/person to enter… that is an expensive bath. But oh… so much more than a bath..
Here we are in the parking lot with beautiful “light-up” maple trees behind us, and the very Japanese-style building in front of us — all part of the experience.
We were given three different outfits over the course of the evening. Here is our first one. (I kind of thought we looked like prisoners a bit- the different colors help a bit…)
We couldn’t bring a camera past this point, but I did pull a few photos off of the website. From here, we went to the “hot rock sauna.” The four of us were given different outfits (suitable for lots of sweating); a bamboo pillow, and a BIG key that unlocked a small door that led us into our own private sauna. We laid out our towels and pillow and laid down on warm rocks with warm dry air coming into the room.
For fifty minutes we hung out in this room, every once in a while going next door to the “cool room” when it became too hot.
During the course of that time, we had some very fun conversations, and even managed to do some group yoga together that Praise taught us. It was so fun to sweat and talk and rest and – bond together.
Then, we went to the bath. It was actually two different stories of many different kinds of baths… gold copper baths;
a silver bath… i
indoor and outdoor baths; and our favorite — a peppermint aromatherapy bath.
After we were sweated, soaked, and all cleaned up, we sat and enjoyed a Japanese parfait together. What a perfect evening!
As we were leaving the hotel, I asked Praise if she had been told about the stone tradition. She hadn’t, so I quickly filled her in. Near the front entrance there was a small rock garden, with white smooth rocks neatly raked into a zen-like formation. I told her that Japanese always take a big handful as they are leaving, go outside, and throw the rocks over their right shoulder. She asked if I had gotten mine yet, and I showed her my fist that looked full of the stones. Praise got on her shoes, then went to the indoor rock garden and got a big-ole fistful. I had gone ahead of her outside and was talking with our two friends. She came out, and asked where to throw them. I said we could do it together right there, and Praise turned around and gave her stones a big toss over her shoulder. Of course- there were no stones in my hand… I was nearly on the ground shaking with laughter. Praise is probably the first, and last person, to pick up rocks from that rock garden and throw them over her shoulder outside, though she is not the first nor the last to be a participant in a Sue prank. She is a great sport- we laughed half of the way home, and several times since.
What a great experience. Only in Japan can you spend four hours — bonding while taking a bath!