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I'm not someone who deals with grief well--I never have been and I'm really aware of that tendency in myself. So, because I'm utterly failing in self-care at the moment, I'll distract myself by creating another post about Japan. Is it possible to still be shocky a full day and some later? I know I've barely eaten--a reaction to extreme stress is utterly losing the ability to eat temporarily--but I'm cold and shivering even with the heat turned up. :( I really hope I can soothe myself down soon, but I'm remembering one of the biggest issues with resolving grief: letting it go and moving on also feels like you're leaving the subject of that grief behind, and I'm not ready to do that yet.

On our second day in Japan, I walked [livejournal.com profile] thewronghands to the Budokan for her seminar, then bravely tackled Tokyo mass transit to find a park with blooming cherries. I'd been considering joining her for the workshop, but I'd mysteriously arrived in Japan with a damaged ankle that was not made better by hiking near Fuji. I still don't know what happened, but the area around my anklebone was horrifically sore and the entire thing had swollen up like a baseball. I was walking around on it only because I was not going to hang out in a sterile business hotel in Tokyo after flying all the way there. But no ninja training for me.

I didn't go to one of the more amazing gardens, because I wasn't sure how Japan Rail intermeshed with the subway system and wanted to make it easy on myself. I figured it out later, and to my dismay realized it was all pretty easy. Ah, well. I ended up at Inokashira Park. The cherry blossoms were just starting to come out, but the people were out in droves, admiring them.


Inokashira Park, Tokyo

Inokashira Park, Tokyo

I also walked on the river walk behind the Budokan, which had a pretty gorgeous display of cherries. Another week and they would have been glorious.

The famous Budokan
Tokyo Ayase Budokan

Ayase walk with cherry blossoms

The next day, I didn't really take any photos. I set out to find the elusive Sakura Extract, sold only in one particular store during sakura season. I grimly tackled the subway system and eventually surfaced in the correct downtown uber-professional-looking area. I wandered into the wrong store and eventually found someone who could point me into the right way. Limped over there (realized later the subway actually would have taken me directly there), and examined all eleven floors until I finally came across the sakura kiosk. THEY WERE OUT. How dare they? Argh! I bought some honey sakura syrup and some powdered sakura in its place and moved on to my next mission.

Which was to go to one of the nicer onsens in the city! It was a bit like onsen Disneyland, actually. I needed to do this on my own, since [livejournal.com profile] thewronghands has tattoos, which are expressly forbidden in the majority of Places of Nakedness. It took a couple of complicated train rides, but I finally arrived at this seaside (in a rather industrial area) resort-y place. HUGELY popular with the locals, it turns out.

I walked in, was shown where to leave my shoes. Was given wristband #1, shown where to pick up my yukata and towel, then taken to dressing room #1. I was super-confused about the instruction to leave the underwear on under the yukata--thought this was nude? Was given wristband #2 for the second dressing room. I locked #1 away and walked through the busy public area to dressing room #2. Or, undressing room. Everyone there was in the process of getting their items together to go out to the public area, so I didn't see anyone nude. The towel ladies were laughing at me, because I was coming across as terrified to take off my clothes, when really I was just trying to make sure I was *finally* undressing at the right time. For all I knew, there was a freaking dressing room #3 around there somewhere.

Finally got that sorted out and went out to explore the women's pools. I ignored all the indoor ones and went to the outdoor pools and garden area. It was gorgeous and peaceful. I was the only white person in the entire building, far as I could tell. I soaked for close to an hour, trying every outdoor pool, then went back to reclaim my yukata.

After a quick green tea ice cream (charged via your wristband) from the large assortment of restaurants, I eventually found the coed outdoor walking pools. I went straight to the Dr. Fish area, paid another $15 bucks, and was ushered into the fish building. About eight people at a time were allowed in, to quietly sit and put their feet in the water for these fish to "clean." My feet were a hit. I'm a hiker and a runner. My feet are in pretty crappy shape, so there was dead skin in abundance. I had a black cloud of fish going to town, which was the absolute weirdest feeling ever. Even the locals were shrieking and yanking their feet from the water, but I managed to school myself into just going with the flow. I don't have ticklish feet, which helped abundantly.

Afterward, kind of blissfully, I stepped into the 50 meter long footbath/river to walk back to the main building. Did not notice that this was designed with protruding ROCK PATTERNS all along it. These people are masochists. My aching feet. It was still a lovely time.
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Jen Kleis

November 2014

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