I can't stop touching myself. Especially my cheeks, they are baby-ass smooth. I just got home from Oedo Onsen Monogatari - part onsen, part theme park, part crazy - in the outskirts of Odaiba. It's one of those places I've been meaning to go for ages and finally decided to go when my darling friend was about to leave Japan for good, having never gotten naked with the locals.
Having gone on a Friday night I think we missed the crowds, it was mostly after-work groups, couples and Chinese and Korean tourists, but I imagine weekends are zooish. After selecting our yukata from a range of 20 or so, we made our way to the baths. I was pleasantly surprised at the variety (pumped in from 1400m underground) - outdoor baths, one person rotenburo, milk baths, gold baths, baths with nitrium and other yummy ingredients, you get the picture. My friend and I splashed out a bit and went for 25 minute "rock salt/bedrock" baths. Which aren't actually baths but heated rock beds that make you sweat like a whore and feel great! They also have a bunch of other spa options including a sand bath where they immerse your body in hot sand. Ooh!
The rest of the facility was...carnival-like. The inside is constructed to look like a street/outdoor festival from back in the Edo period but comes off as a bit freakish and campy. Enjoyable for what it's worth but I'd rather skip the hoorah and just enjoy the magical waters. The food was disappointing Japanese - of mall quality and not unlike Japanese food served at identity-confused restaurants in North America.
See above? This wasn't taken outside on a summer night, but rather inside some nondescript building in Odaiba! Maybe I'm being too harsh, the carnival atmosphere was kind of fun, it was certainly fun running around in yukata sweating, bathing, eating, bathing, running from strange Japanese man who kept following us. The highlight was definitely when we were outside at this fantastic wading pool and I, not realizing the bottom was lined with small, very pointed rocks for massaging the feet and reflexology, stepped in putting my whole body weight on my poor right foot! I will never understand how people can walk on these!! The whole pool was lined with various degrees and patterns of these small rocks but the soles of my feet found them excruciating.
If you want to forget about Tokyo for a bit and just focus on the heat, this is most definitely the place. Apart from the local sento baths there are a number of so-called onsen in Tokyo now, minus the period theme. There used to be one in Shibuya and Roppongi run by the same company but after an underground explosion at the former, they have both shut down. Sure they don't compare to being in the middle of nowhere soaking in magic water, but it is how I plan to start ending the week!! (If you go after 6pm there is a 1000 discount and if you ever want to disprove the idea that all Asian women are small and have the same body type, spend a few hours at an onsen and tell me what you think.)