Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Swimming In An Onsen

The last week or so, temperatures in Sydney have been incredibly hot, and it's been great to swim in the ocean and the harbour in cool saltwater. On Sunday it reached 41 degrees Celsius, and we complained again and again about the heat (except when we were splashing about in cool seawater).

I was remembering a holiday in Japan during their cold, snowy winter. We spent quite a lot of time (especially after skiing) soaking in onsens (volcanic thermal mineral springs). These baths, indoor and outdoor, are always over 40 degrees - precisely the air temperatures we're grumbling about here and now. Still, they felt rather special after the snow.

Most onsen, and outdoor rotemburo, were small, deep baths, with just enough room for a couple of people to sit comfortably. Sometime, they were large enough to do a bit of floating. But in Beppu, there was an onsen complex, Kitahama Termas Onsen, with an outdoor swimming pool sized hot spring. This was just great to swim around in, then we would vary this routine with the huge outdoor spa, the hot waterfall, the mist baths and the (very) cold "squall" shower and bath.

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