And the Day Had Started Out So Well . . .

And the Day Had Started Out So Well . . .

Last morning in our cute little 100 year old house made of rice paper – Cam made us all breakfast and we all were packed up and ready to go. Jenn and Cam were going their own way for next four nights, riding the rails with their JR train passes, and the rest of us were renting a car for that time. Our last night in Japan we meet up again at the Hotel Henn Na near Haneda Airport – couldn’t leave Japan without a dinosaur robot hotel experience!

This is our little car for the next four days – Ayami got us a great deal and is our driver, because David forgot his license in Tokyo.

First stop was the little onsen town of Arima. The natural hot springs here, and the little village surrounding them, are some of the oldest in Japan. There are two types, “golden” (or red) and “silver”. Each pool is a different colour of water and they have their own restorative properties. After doing a little research online, David found that we could get a day pass at a swanky hotel that had many pools on both sides of the building (one side being for girls and one for guys). For $42 each, you could spend all day in the hot springs and surrounding relaxation areas AND got a $20 credit towards a delicious lunch (basically the whole cost, including beer). We’re in!!! Only catch is that this will be Don’s and my first naked onsen experience (no option on that). Sure, why not?

The parking lot was filled with expensive cars, including this showy Lamborghini

Lunch was some of the best tempura yet!

This is a photo of one of the onsen pools in the ladies’ area from the brochures, no cameras allowed (thankfully!).

One of the pools – this one I think, was open to the outdoors and I sat at the edge and let the little rain drops sprinkle down on my head – it was truly lovely.

No a bit about the “being naked” thing (because I know some of you are wondering). It’s really not that bad. Think walking between the shower and your locker in any pool changing or locker room. You have a little towel that you can hold in front of you as you walk or sit on the edge, but by the end, I wasn’t worrying about it. It may just be the stage of life I am at, but I realized that I didn’t really care and neither did anyone else. No one is openly “looking” at you and we all have more or less the same bits anyway, so I think we have over-thought this one by quite a lot. The Japanese have it right. And as a way to ease into it, the golden pools are virtually opaque, so when you sit down, you don’t feel so exposed.

So after a lovely and relaxing couple of hours, we piled back into our little car and headed for Kobe. Less than five minutes down the road we all noticed a weird noise and vibration.

And that’s when our day went south (not literally) . . . apparently we had a flat tire. No problem, the Currie men are on it. Get the spare out, an the jack . . . Wait, where’s the jack?

No jack. Really. We all looked.

There was a worker nearby on a big rig so Ayami spoke to him. He came to have a look, but alas, had no car jack. He said some guys were coming, and maybe they could help, so we waited a bit more while Ayami contacted the car rental company and then their insurance company. But flat tires are apparently not their problem.

So the three new guys arrive, with a tire jack – Yay!. Alas and alack, none of their things to remove the lug nuts were the right size (who knew there were different sizes). More head scratching, before decided that there was nothing they could do and so they all drove off.

By this time, the triple A equivalent was on his way. The rental company kindly agreed to pay at least to get the spare on, because there had been no jack. Unfortunately this particular rental company has no affiliates here in Kobe. When the guy got there with the right tools, the spare was on in no time.

So at least we could limp to our hotel in Kobe. Needless to say, all of this took hours and the rest of the day (evening) was pretty much a write off as Ayami phoned around and even got a guy to come out at 9:40 to assess the tire – all to no avail. That guy wanted $300 to fix it! The next morning they took it to a garage nearby, where they were told that the tire is a write off, but it should be ok to drive on the spare for the three more days we have left, as long a we took it slow and didn’t go on the speedy toll roads.

So that’s what we’re going to do – cross your fingers for us everybody!

Good night from Kobe, where our hotel has it’s own onsens, free ramen after 9:30 pm and – most importantly – free ice cream after 3:30 pm!! We feel a little better now . . .

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