Onsen beats sauna

Before coming to Japan and also in Japan I heard many times that I’d have hard time finding an onsen, a Japanese “spa”, where I could enter because I have tattoos and tattooed people aren’t welcomed to these places. Those things got into me and I didn’t even think about what kind of an experience going to an onsen could even be. Well, I managed to find quite easily a place that doesn’t exclude tattooed people. The onsen where I went was Funaoka onsen. I went with a friend who has also tattoos and although we have read that it is ok to go to this place we were terrified when trying to enter the onsen. So my companions in misfortune: at least in Kyoto it is not hard to find an onsen where you can enter with your unwelcomed tattoos. I’ve understood that foreigners with tattoos are not that bad as Asians with tattoos.. for me it is a relief but in general that is sad. Tattoos are art. But I will not go into that now….

I have never been a big fan of just floating in the water so I wasn’t specially interested in an onsen because of the spa but more because it has a big role in Japan’s culture. You go there to relax and let your body soak in the hot natural spring water. Funaoka onsen has many different baths, e.g. wooden bath tub, cold bath and electric bath. The electric bath was very bizarre :-D Of course I ended up there by accident and I was literally shocked because I got small shocks. Awful feeling when you get shocks out of nowhere. Didn’t enjoy that bath that much but the other baths were amazing. They even had a sauna which got me in beforehand really excited but in the end I didn’t even want to spend much time there because the bath water is hot. My face was as red as tomato after the bathing!

So what do you need when you go to a Japanese onsen? You need soap, small towel and self-confidence because before entering the bath you need to properly wash yourself and you bath naked. And don’t be afraid of doing something wrong because the Japanese will help you when you look like you have no idea what to do!

Funaoka onsen is said to be one of the best in Kyoto, and I will definitely go there again! You can’t take photos there but you can check Funaoka onsen’s photos here. I can take photo of my lobster face next time.

Now it is the best time in Kyoto to go to see the autumn leaves. We went yesterday to see the autumn colours in Ishiyama-dera. During this time there are many temples that are open late and they have illumination. All I can say is WOW! So beautiful.. I missed earlier the Finnish autumn because of the beautiful autumn colours but I can say that the Japanese autumn colours are also amazing. I took some photos but my phone’s camera isn’t good enough to capture the amazing view:

It is so strange.. It is almost the end of November and I’ve seen so many butterflies this week :-) at the same time I have a Christmas decoration on my window.

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Fairly good fortune

Now it happened what I was afraid of. I got sick! I caught a cold and my nose is running and someone is tickling my throat. Here people wear masks to either protect other people from getting sick or they are trying to protect themselves from getting sick from others. I was wondering before that if I get sick should I wear a mask as well.. but I just can’t. Just the image of me wearing a mask seems bizarre and ridiculous. I hope no one is afraid of me or think I am disgusting when I am blowing my nose or sneezing… I try to do it secretly.. :-D

Anyways I am glad that I didn’t get sick when my friend was here visiting me. I was very happy that she came here although it made me a bit homesick afterwards. I miss my amazing friends! She was here 4,5 days and I think we were able to see lots of things. We spent half a day in Osaka and the rest of the days in Kyoto and Otsu. The best thing we did was definitely having a “photoshoot” in a special photobooth. 99% of the instructions were in Japanese so we had a blast while trying to succeed to modify the photographs and try to get them printed. We got two sheets of photographs which costed only 400 yen (2,9 euros). Here’s the result:

Beauty Photoshoot

The decoration got a bit out of hands but it was so much fun. We have also now very weird alter ego names due to the fact the we panicked and just pressed some buttons (Japanese characters) in order to get something on the screen. That’s how we became Seshike & Suekonefu.

In Osaka we visited the Pokemon Center, Osaka Castle and Shinsaibashi (the shopping street) which according to some people and internet pages are the main attractions in Osaka (in addition to the Universal Studios Japan). I was so surprised how “silent” the city was because it is the third biggest city in Japan. But later we found out that the main action was under the ground. I’ve never experienced such a thing that there are more people underground than on the ground! During the daylight the city didn’t impress me but I’ve heard I should experience the nightlife so maybe my next visit will be directed to experience the bars and the clubs of Osaka.

In Kyoto we visited the Golden Pavilion Kinkakuji, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Heian Shrinethe Bamboo Forest, the Gion area and the downtown. I knew that I wouldn’t be the best guide here but I was surprised how challenging it actually is to move around the city. It is hard to manage time and sometimes even the public transportation. When to go and where to go… This is definitely the most challenging place so far in my life where I really can’t understand anything around me, the signs, the language, and so on…. Although living is at times a bit tiring and challenging here, it offers memorable experiences and adventures :-)
And we saw five Geishas!!! I don’t know if they were Geishas or Maikos (“Geisha students”) but we were so lucky. At least once I am in the right place in the right time.

I have also managed to use my nonexistent Japanese language skills and had even a small conversion which didn’t last long but encouraged me enough to believe that one day I might be able to actually communicate in Japanese in complete and clear sentences, haha.

I made a mistake and bought a ticket of fortune forecasting. How depressing :-D It says that I should give up about love, haha. Apropos… Let’s all cross our fingers and say a little prayer that hopefully the two nice persons are still ahead and that I haven’t met them. And that I won’t lose anything…

Fairly Good luck 2 Fairly Good luck

Here are few pictures from last weekend (Kyoto & Osaka):

Tomorrow we will have a Halloween party! My “costume” is still a work-in-process.. I couldn’t find today what I was looking for but I am hopeful that I’ll find it tomorrow.. Hopefully I succeed finding it and hopefully I will succeed in what I am trying to do :-D

I’ve been also surprised how excited the Japanese are about Halloween. At least having parties with the Halloween theme because I saw already last weekend many people wearing Halloween costumes in the nightlife.

Anyways.. Happy Halloween everyone :-)

Welcome to my home

Hi,

I thought I could tell a bit about my city where I live in and show you my new home. I live in Otsu-shi which is the capital of the Shiga Prefecture. Shiga is located in the east of Kyoto. It takes about 15 minutes to go to Kyoto by local train. There are +300 000 inhabitants in Otsu. First this place seemed like a small village but the figures tell that it is not that small. There are many huge malls but the downtown is quite small though.

Our university, the Ryukoku University, has campuses both in Shiga and in Kyoto. My campus is the Seta campus which is located in Shiga. It takes 20-25 minutes by bicycle to go to the university. I was kind of sad when I left Kuopio because in a twisted way I missed the hill that I had to overcome every time I went home. I should be careful what I wish for because there is also a pretty nice uphill when I go to the Seta campus :-D but it’s nothing compared to the Neulamäki hill.

I live with a Chinese girl, and this is how my home looks like:

I have both a fan and an air conditioner in my room which were very useful when the days were too hot to me. Now the weather is a bit cooler and bearable. :-) During the day I can still wear summery clothes but in the evening I need a jacket or a shirt.

I bought a bike which makes moving here in Otsu easier. To my great surprise it is hard to find a parking place for your bike in the downtown because you can’t just park anywhere you want. There are some places where you can pay for parking. You can also try your luck and leave your bike somewhere where it is not allowed. We tried it once and we got right away red tape on the handlebar. We thought we got a ticket but we heard that it is just warning that next time our bikes will be taken away… When we bought the bikes we had to register them also. And if you buy an used bike you have to register it into your ownership. Also if you ride a bike without the light on in the evening, you can get a ticket.

Happy bike owner!