Last Sunday my housemates from the Borderless House invited me very spontaneously to a visit of a Japanese hot spring on the artificial island of Odaiba.
Inhabitable land mass kind of turned out to be a very valuable resource in Tokyo, so in the 1970s, when Tokyo was expanding fast, some island fortresses from the Edo period where taken as a base to form this artificial island. And when the Japanese economy went crazy during the 1980s Odaiba was supposed to become THE example of futuristic lifestyle and a lot of money was invested.
However, the Japanese economy broke down shortly after and now Odaiba is probably the emptiest place in entire Tokyo. But while one of my housemates called it therefore “the shame of Japanese economy”, I really came to enjoy this emptiness.
The Shopping Malls, Hotels and Museums in Odaiba can offer a lot more space here and often add gardens and parks to their area. Therefore, since I was only used to very small, rather traditional bath houses, the hot spring Oedo-Onsen just had me astonished with its size!
The Onsen had a large entrance hall, where we left our shoes and received some Yukata. After changing into those and locking our luggage, I expected the typical resting room with some couches and vending machines, where we would spend our time after having the bath.
I couldn’t have been any more wrong though.
We entered a hall that I didn’t even recognize as a hall at first glance, because it was designed as a Japanese summer festival out in the open. There were small restaurants to eat in a traditional manner on tatami mats, cold drinks were served, and there were ice-cream booths and a lot of games typical for Japanese summer festivals.
And we were all in our beautifully patterned Yukata!
From this main hall diverged the ways to the hot springs for men and women. We split up here to spend some time in the hot springs and decided on the time to meet back in the main hall.
After one and a half hours of relaxation in both the indoor and outdoor springs of the women area, we got ready in our Yukata once more to meet up again. I kind of got lost in the process. While wandering around I found a door in the main hall that let to a seperate spa and massage area, and another door that let to a beautifully decorated outside area, which was, luckily, our meeting point.
This outside area was made for both sexes and consisted mainly of an artificial river to relax the feet in while chatting quietly. They even had those fish that gnaw on your skin in another area, but it was not included in the price and even if it was, I would have probably been too grossed out to try that…
So we just sat there for a while and really had a good time after being in the hot waters for so long and feeling a bit exhausted from that.
I don’t think I had so much fun in a Japanese bath house ever. I still wish I could have stayed longer. It was just as much fun as it was relaxing and I left the Island of Odaiba with an actual feeling of fulfillment, thinking maybe only of when to come back and who I could bring next time! 🙂