Something else I've noticed while I've been here is that everything makes music. When you turn the dishwasher on, it sings a happy little tune. When it finishes, it sings another happy little tune. Same story with the washing machine, and the microwave. Even the garbage truck sings a happy little song as it goes. It's all very cute.
So, yesterday, after making hotcakes for breakfast, we went to a Bazaar. Just like in Australia, in Japan Sunday morning is Markets morning!! I picked up a pencil case for 200 yen, and later saw it in a department store for about 1000; Sogo picked up a brand-new iPod Shuffle for 1000 yen (about $15AU), and Miki and Sogo picked up heaps of clothes for the kids, and a t-shirt that neither of them fitted, so it came to me. It's blue, and says "For Children, your heart". We also met a Mocha stall, and I had my first taste of real Japanese ceremonial tea. You get a little origami box with some tiny tiny candies in it, and a mochi dumpling, and a bowl of green tea which is slightly bitter. It was pretty cool.
After the Bazaar, we went to Big Boy family restaurant for lunch, and I had a grilled chicken breast done in herbs with a basil sauce, and some salad. It was really great. After that, Sogo dropped Saki, Miki and myself off at Meiwa Elementary school for Saki's dodgeball game, which was heaps of fun to watch. Tell ya what, it's a brutal game! The kids peg the ball so hard they often send whoever gets hit by it, or catches it, skidding backwards in the dirt. It was fun to watch though.
So, after that, we went to yet another department store, and wandered around there for a bit - went to another Uni Qlo, but I didn't buy anything. Went to a shoe store - Japanese shoes are tiny, the biggest size they go to is about an 8. Sucks for people with size 9+ feet. Then it was time for the Onsen (Hot springs)!!
How to take an Onsen
Upon first entering the Onsen complex, take your shoes off and put them in a locker. Take the key from that locker. Go to the ticket machine and choose the entry fee, plus a towel - small towels are about 150 yen, and large towels are 500 yen. Hand the tickets and your shoe locker key over to the attendant and he will give you your towels and a locker card. Go through the curtained off area for your gender. You will be in the locker room, so choose a locker and put your locker card in the door, with the number facing out. Remember this number!! Remove your clothes, all of them, your glasses, any jewellery, and any makeup if you're wearing it. Don't be shy - you'll call more attention to yourself if you act all weird about being naked at a public bath than if you just act like it's a normal thing. You will get attention anyway for being a foreigner, but don't draw attention to yourself by carring on about "Eww, nudity".
Okay, so, once you have done this, it is time to enter the baths. Onsen usually have an inside and an outside area. Starting with the inner room, there are showers, and several baths - hot, middling and icy cold (for after the Sauna), a wood sauna, and a couple of spa pools. Shower first! Ensure that you are clean before you enter a bath. When you enter a bath, don't splash around or swim, just sit and relax, and make sure your towel stays out of the water. We tried each of the baths, except the cold one, at first. The spa was heaps of fun, the hot bath was pleasantly warm for a while, then it became too hot, and the middling bath was just nice. Then we went out to the outer area. Here, there are several hot springs, some large tubs, and a Kata - a room with a small pool, about mid-calf deep, seating around the outside, and around the ceiling, jets that shoot a fine mist of warm water into the air. It was really nice. You stay in there for a while, until you get too warm, then you step out and you're steaming in the cold air, but the cold air feels really good. Then you splash yourself with cool water and go back in. We did this about 3-4 times, then decided to hit the sauna.
The sauna was fantastic. It was about 85`C, and had about 3 tiers of seats, and even a TV. We stayed in the first time for about 2 minutes, then staggered out and into the cold pool, which felt great. The second time, we lasted about 4 minutes, and then did the cold pool, and decided to wet our towels with the ice water too. The third time, with cold towels wrapped around our heads, we lasted about 10 minutes before we decided we'd better get out and finish up. We dunked ourselves in the cold pool again, then went back into the locker room and got dressed. Afterwards, we had green tea soft serves, and then went home.
Dinner was okonomiyaki, and it was really good. I've discovered where I went wrong in making them at home. Japanese cooking is all about the preparation and the cutting, and I had cut the ingredients up wrong when I tried making it. Now I know, I'll remember for next time.
This morning was pretty normal; got up, broke my fast - toast with peach jam that Sogo's mum makes, 1/4 of a persimmon - 1/4 was enough, persimmons are very sweet, and some tonkatsu, or crumbed pork. Left home earlyish, hoping to get to the post office before 9, but it opens at 9 exactly, so I had to wait around to use the ATM. Now I'm at uni, waiting for my first class - a class on how to teach Japanese, in Japanese. Should be interesting!!
So, I'll update probably tomorrow!!