In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit: I’m more of a shower person. Bathing takes a lot more water, time, and of course, money.
That said, I do take baths sometimes, and Japan has an extensive bathing culture to accompany this. The hot springs are well-known, but many forget about the amusement park in Hakone where you can bathe in wine, green tea and coffee. I don’t know how it compares to the normal bathing experience, but I know a few people who wouldn’t mind bathing in the former. Certainly not the latter.
Onsen trips aside, the average person here will take a long soak at night to stay relaxed and clean. I think it’s a really nice idea, in practice: in reality, it’s just more difficult for me, since I focus more on not dropping my book or whatever electronic device I have in the water.
Today was also a holiday–Showa no Hi—an honor to commemorate the previous Emperor. As far as I know, no one does much to celebrate, but it’s a whole day off, and in a hectic month, l’ll take it with no complaints. But instead of going into the main hub of Sannomiya, I wanted to spend some time someplace a little off the beaten path. With that in mind, two of the most lively areas in Kobe—Harborland and Motomachi—were out, as was Osaka. So, I decided to go to Rokkomichi.
Rokkomichi is a station close to the Mt. Rokko range in Kobe; the peak is known for the beautiful night view, one of the most lovely in Japan. The station itself is convenient since it’s close by, and also rather close to Kobe College, noted for its high national ranking.
Those things are fine and well, but I personally like Rokkomichi for something a little more simple: the food. In the Parco shopping center near the station, there are plenty of coffee shops and stores. This isn’t unusual, but the variety is greater than you might expect: Tully’s Coffee, Jupiter (for foreign products), an extensive supermarket with well-stocked everything, and Sakana, a cross between a Japanese cafe and a store. They sell bentou, oranges, jumbo riceballs, miso soup, and a bunch of other mouthwatering foods prepared daily. I like this place. This is also a bit sad, since there are only two locations in all of Kobe, neither of which are close to me.
So that was my main motive in going there, but while I was looking around Parco, I found something else.
Namely, Olympia: a stationery store with odd knickknacks and collectibles, including a number of bathtime products. They were a little different from the norm, though, and when food is on your mind, the eye can easily be fooled.
I doubt any one could blame me for wondering about this.
I may have caved thanks to the fun packaging, but at any rate, I decided to try them out and took home my spoils of war. Then today, I put Holiday Bathroom in my bathtub. At first, there was no change. I wondered, was this thing really effective, or had I wasted my yen? I looked at the pouch again—before sliding it into the water, it had been full of sand-colored powder. Now it was heavy and smelled of chamomile. Was this even a bathroom product?
I reread the label. Hmm. Something titled Holiday Bathroom was most likely intended for the bathroom, assuming no one had made a grievous error. Then I reread the instructions: “keep it in the water without tearing the pack.” Strange. The pouch kept floating there, independent of my concerns. So I squeezed the pouch to see if any change occured. Slowly, the water began to mimic the light milky color of the powder. It still smelled nothing like the pouch, though, a rather nice mix of ginger, honey, cinnamon, and rosehips. If there were no bath salts, it would have made for an awesome tea.
It took about half-an-hour for most of the pouch to diffuse. By then, the water had gone lukewarm. I ignored it and tried not to get the pages of my book damp as I turned the cover. I probably would buy it again, even though it—like a bathtime equivalent to milk candy or ginger-honey tea—wasn’t quite what I expected.