Odaiba: Onsen Wonderland

The last two days I’ve been pretty exhausted, so I didn’t really go anywhere. Mainly, I studied and watched TV, but with the recent change from a mostly-organic diet and clean air to fast food and city pollution, I just needed a few days to recuperate. I’m pretty sure my asthma has actually flared up again~ oh no!

Anyway, today was a day devoted to baths. After class, I took part in a cultural program put on by some Japanese Women’s University students.  We learned all about o-furo, the Japanese style of bath. The program itself was okay; the part I enjoyed most was playing fruits-basket beforehand as a way to get to know everybody. I met a lot of nice people- I’ve been giving my contact info to a lot of people, so hopefully I’ll be making some friends soon!

After the program, I went back to Sugamo to save Nicky from being trapped in my room [she spent the night over here so that we could have fun together after my class], and when I got back, she showed me some reviews for places to go in Odaiba, Tokyo’s ‘future city’ that was built during their last economic bubble. In particular, she showed me the page for O-Edo Onsen Monogatari. I asked her when she wanted to go, and she said “Tonight.” so.... off we went! We invited Erin along, and decided to make it a girl’s night out.

To start off, though the trip to Odaiba is expensive from Sugamo, it is gorgeous, especially the ride on the rail from Shinbashi to Odaiba. Shinbashi is seated right along the bay, and today was a particularly clear day for Tokyo, so the blue was reflected on all of the windows, and the sheen of the sun made everything sparkle. Odaiba has lots of beautiful architecture, so the skyline is really fun to gaze at as you go to your destination.

Another nice thing about Odaiba is that it is really easy to find everything. Once we got off the train, it only took five minutes to find the O-Edo Onsen. The best thing about the onsen is that it’s a theme park (pretty much) that is really cheap! It is mostly an indoor “playground” modeled after Edo Period, so as you explore the little shops and game arenas, you are protected from mosquitos and the humidity is kept under control. The only place where this is not the case is the foot bath area, where everything is outdoors.

The foot bath area was our first stop in O-Edo Onsen, and while we tried to walk the foot bath, the pebbles under foot were simply too much for our poor feet, so we gave up. Nicky suggested we go try the ダークタフィシ (Doctor Fish), so we went over to the Turkish fish bath house to explore. Pretty much, the moment you stick your foot into the water, sixty to seventy small, black fish descend upon you to gobble up all the old skin on your toes, ankles and elsewhere. Naturally, this is extremely ticklish for the first few minutes, though afterwards the feeling is quite pleasant. Our feet were so smooth afterwards, and for the next three hours they felt so relaxed!

Next up in our adventure was the hot sand baths. This was also pretty awesome. The sand was kept at 45ºC, which is 113ºF, so it didn’t even take five minutes before we were sweating profusely. It was a really nice feeling though. Our skin was so smooth and clean after we showered the sand off. I felt like I’d just gotten an entire spa treatment and we hadn’t even gone to the onsens yet!

The onsens, however, are the very best part of O-edo Onsen. All of them are free after you pay admission, and the women’s side sports nearly twenty baths of all shapes, sizes, temperatures and types. Nicky and I tried out the barrel baths, the outside stone and hot baths, and then we went inside to sample the single jet baths and matcha onsen. It was so much fun! I definitely want to go back again, maybe with a larger group.

Fully refreshed by the fish, sand and hot water, Nicky and I decided to treat ourselves one more time to a fancy Japanese meal. The dinners were Edo themed, with Nicky getting a bento full of old style foods that we weren’t familiar with. All I know is that I’m pretty sure I ate a sea slug. My own plate was mostly sashimi, and we both had a seafood pudding as well. Lots of interesting and new textures and tastes- I just wish I knew what we ate!

Following dinner, we met up with Erin again and went outside to hang out in the ninja cafe, where we proceeded to giggle over Erin’s shyness. We only stayed at the cafe for twenty minutes or so though, as the service wasn’t exceptional (all the ninja were flirting with these two girls, so we were ignored...) After we finished our soda, I passed out some small surprise gifts I’d gotten at the store inside, as momentos of the fantastic night. I think everyone liked them ^_^ All in all, a wonderful night~ one I will remember for a long time to come!