I've got something I need to get off my chest......
Japanese hotels - why must everything be so small!? I'm totally one for efficiency and being compact but at 6'6", I think it's fair to say I don't fit the average one-size-fits-all. I like a little elbow room; a little space to maneuver. I guess it's safe to say you won't find me driving a Smart car.
If you click here, you will be directed to a breakdown of the many types of hotels and accommodations offered here in Japan. Contrary to the NBA, we do not stay at the Ritz-Carltons, the Four Seasons or any other luxury suites. One would say we're on the modest side of things. According to the link above, we frequent what you would call a "business hotel." Convenient. Practical. When it states it's "small" and "no frills", believe me, that is no exaggeration!
If you're above average height then you know exactly what struggles I'm faced with each road trip. Showers that never reach eye level, door frames that force you to duck or most importantly, miniature sized beds.
On the contraire, for those who are (how do I put this nicely) height-challenged, it is everything you want in a hotel. All rooms come with the usual amenities that you'll find at your standard hotel but, many of these business hotels have one perk that (no pun intended) trumps your Holiday Inn Express...
My oh my, what do we have here!? This is what the Japanese call an onsen, otherwise known as a hot springs. If you don't care to know the difference, well then, you'll simply call it a hot tub. Traditionally, onsens were used as public bathing areas. The water would be heated geothermally due to, in most cases, the presence of volcanic activity and thus readily heated and available. So in the truest essence of the word, onsens are found outdoors. Pictured above is a makeshift indoor replica that I'm 99% sure didn't receive its water from a natural geyser.
Just as within the Nordic countries where the sauna culture is very prevalent, onsens are a staple in Japan. A crucial reason for having these public baths at business hotels is due to the Japanese work culture. Simply put, they work tirelessly! Many begin work before 9am and finish much later than 5pm; according to some, leaving "on time" can be a sign of disloyalty. With such hectic work hours, a place to sit back, relax and bask in the ambience of heated waters and peace is more a necessity than it is a luxury. There's nothing quite like sitting in one of these chest-deep and walking out feeling like a new man(or woman); rejuvenation at its best!
What's in store for the next post you ask? Hmmm, who knows, perhaps we'll dive into sushi, or driving on the opposite side of the road. Maybe, just maybe, I'll teach you how to speak Japanese...Okay, I went a little too far with that.
In any case, peace and happiness until we meet again.
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Thank you joining the journey and walking with me Overseas With A Carry On!