おはよう! This past Sunday I went out on an adventure with a new friend of mine, やゆさん. Yuya, a native of Japan, invited me to the Oedo Onsen with him and his girlfriend. Having never been, but hearing about how awesome they are, I could not refuse the invitation. When we arrived, we were given ゆかた (bath robes) to change into and wear within the resort. I have to say, patience is a virtue I have become very fond of since I’ve been here. I could not take my normally long strides in these tightly wrapped robes, or else I’d find myself indecently exposed! After changing we entered into a very large center filled with all different types of food, entertainment, and shops. Here we met up with Yuya’s girlfriend, みちよさん, and went outside to get our feet wet. At first I was unsure about stepping out into the cold air, but the water was あつめ (hot)! We sat on the edge of the pool, massaging our feet with the round rocks on the floor, and just talked. Whenever I used a word or slang term that Yuya did not understand, he would right away pull out his iPhone and look up the meaning. In the meantime I would ask him of Japanese words I did not know. It was such an interesting dynamic.
Next we decided to head inside to get something to eat. Yuya introduced to me to some traditional Japanese foods that were really good. I’m glad he refrained from telling me what they were, because I sometimes have a weak stomach. Come to find out the dish i liked the most was たこやき (fried octopus)! Afterwards Yuya and I headed to the onsen baths and and then sauna. At the end of everything I felt beyond relaxed. On top of that, I paid less than 3000 yen (less than ~$35). I would be paying that much or more per hour at a spa equivalent in the US. I could have even stayed at the onsen for the entire day for this price.
We parted ways on the Rinkai Line and I rushed back home to change before we met back up in Ginza, for a party a few hours later. Ginza could be compared to the Walnut Street section of Philadelphia, just BIGGER. Loads of high end fashion stores, and expensive cafes line its streets. Here is where the upper-middle class urbanites hang out. And I’m just staring googly eyed at everything around me. Meanwhile, Yuya retains his cool and collected countenance. We arrived at our destination and took an elevator six floors up, which opened up directly into a lavish, swanky, and grandiose lounge. Yuya introduced me to his friends, and I took it as great opportunity to practice my Japanese. Ironically, some of his friends were trying to speak in English to me at the same time. It was a very entertaining exchange of cultures. Although I’m almost certain that I was the only がいじん (alien/foreigner) at the party that evening, I was surprised at the type of music the DJ played, all of which was from American artists. In addition to that the DJ played music from a spectrum of genres and time periods. From present day Pop, to 90s Hip Hop, all the way back to Disco, Funk, and Classic Rock. It was a set that flowed unlike anything I’ve heard of in the states.
What a day, what day to experience Japanese culture with a native friend. When I first got here, it was somewhat hard to find a balance between living as a tourist or becoming fully engulfed in the culture of in Japan. I feel that today I brought me one step close to that balance, じゃあまた.