Sunday

I sat on my bicycle in the morning with the intention of just having a wander around, just aimlessly pedaling among the pedestrians and discovering the city. After a few minutes I was happy about how good I was at zigzagging between the people. I went only as far as to feel at least a little confident about my being able to return.

After some time, when hunger started disturbing me, I decided to go to the Tokyo Dome City where my favorite restaurant was. I locked my bicycle among other tens of parked bicycles. There was long queue in front of the restaurant so I rode an elevator to the sixth floor where I knew from the billboards downstairs that some spa should be there.

Right after I and the other people got off the elevator they took their shoes off. Iíd done the same and locked them in the nearby lockers. At the reception before I entered they gave me English fliers where I could read about the price and useful map of the facilities was there too. They also let me choose the color of the clothing I wanted to wear in the spa.

I followed the map to get to the male locker-room where they gave me a bag with towels and some blue pajamas. At the reception they also gave me some kind of wristlet which unlocked the locker with the same number after I put it next to its lock.

I watched the others to know whether they keep on their underwear while putting the pajamas on. The man next to me didnít take his off so I kept on mine too.

I moved next to the space with pools. Everyone stripped completely before entering. I did the same. Some of them hold the towel in front to enhance their privacy, I did the same. The first thing they did they rinsed their bodies with hot water from a ceramic barrel using small wooden buckets.

There were several pools with hot water with bubbles, streaming water, water of some brown color and one with cold water and also several saunas with different temperatures. One side was filled with low positioned open showers with mirrors, shampoos, conditioners, liquid soaps and small chairs where men were sitting and washing their bodies. I sat on one of the chairs and washed my body too. I tried to see if anyone was washing their hair too, but I couldnít notice anyone so I didnít wash my head yet.

Two women were there right next to us massaging, when I saw them I reflexively covered my front but the others were freely walking around them so I adapted.

At the beginning I used to hold the towel in front of me when moving from one pool to another or some sauna, but many of the people there werenít doing that, so I stopped doing that too. I didnít have to feel ashamed. It seems to be true what they say about Asians.

I went to soap and shower up again and discovered that tooth brushes and razors were available there. Although I didnít need any of those I used them both, I wanted to try everything related to the experience.

I tried the pool with bubbles and that was great, hot water and stream massaging back and legs. I donít know why but the muscles on my neck stiffened while there. Eventually I tried all the pools and saunas. One sauna had a huge TV screen there, it looked like a small auditorium with naked men watching TV.

Again, for the last time, I soaped and showered and this time I washed my hair too. The shampoo was there so it had to be okay and after all others were doing that too. Outside in the changing room I bought drinking water from a vending machine using the wristlet. I put my clothes on and then applied hair gel and used a hairdryer in the space dedicated to these activities. I just had to use everything they had there, I wanted to try it all. At the reception I returned the wristlet and they scanned it to know how much I was to pay. I spent two hours there.

There were less people in my restaurant after and I didnít have to wait long. Outside before entering I bought tickets from the vending machine. I chose the main food, the Chinese noodles, and paid a little more for additional boiled rice. You enter with the tickets and they give you there a piece of paper where you check the options the way you prefer your food, how spicy, how oily, with or without meat and so on. When a place gets free they send you there.

There you sit in a small space for one person only partially covered from the other customers. You place the tickets and the paper in front and from the other side a person takes them, says something, bows nicely, thanks and disappears, while you can see just the personís torso because itís a kind of wall with only a hole in it. After a while they bring your order and the hole is then covered by blinds. There you eat it, suck in the noodles using chopsticks and leave. Itís forbidden to smoke, using the phone and talk together there, while the latter is not strictly followed.

I found my bicycle outside and rode to nearby park where Iíve done a few photos and spent some time studying Japanese. My Portuguese supervisor claims that the Japanese gardens are the most beautiful he has seen in his life and it seems he is right.

On my way home I managed to get lost but I asked for the direction to Tokyo Dome City and to show the direction using hands is the same in every language.


Comments:

Chris:
What a fascinating story! The culture of Japan seem so strange (you seem to have captured it perfectly), but it works so well! Order and discipline combined with pleasure. Thanks for the beautiful photos, each one tells a story. The combination of a modern and ancient city combined into one. And Tokyo is now so much better... because YOU are there!

Franck:
Hi Milan, how are you doing ?
I have received your email and I hope the issue is getting solved. If not you must get used to it. Greetings from Paris.

Milan Toma:
haha Chris, no, Tokyo is pretty good without me :) but thanks...

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