The floor of my room is covered in tatami mats. There is almost no furniture, no bed. There is a very low table where tea is served upon your arrival. Sadly, I came too late in the day and too close to dinner to partake. At night, house keeping lays out a futon mattress on the floor and a heavy goose down filled duvet to sleep under. The room has a small sun room and a balcony over-looking a river, mountains, and a perfectly manicured garden of bushes and trees and rocks and grass.
There is a tiny, square bathtub in a tiny room with a hand held sprayer and another tiny room with a toilet complete with seat warmer, bidet, and other strange accessories. The reason for the simple bathroom is that the hotel houses an incredible public bath that most guests opt to use instead.
Before going in the bath area, you sit on a teeny stool and wash yourself, including your hair. Then you dip in and then get out and sit at the stool and wash again. The stools are all lined against the wall in a row each in front of a mirror complete with a sprayer and a plethora of shampoos and soaps and lotions. You can also put your feet up on a stone and turn on a faucet which pours onto them. And there is a large wooden tub outside as well.
The entire hotel breathes with peace and stillness. Most guests walk around wearing yukatas, simple cotton robes, giving the place a spa-like feel. There are paths to hike and a small town to explore. But mostly it is a place for meditation and rest. A girl could get a lot of writing – and thinking – done here.
After an incredible, traditional Japanese dinner which consisted of many foods I didn’t even recognize – or had ever heard of – I soaked in the outside tub in the freezing night air and looked out to the gardens and above to the moon…and the big dipper. I can think of little that would be a better or more profound experience.
It is all so still and sparse. It is impossible not to be at peace. Knowing I would be leaving after only one night here, made me feel quite sad. I only hope that I can take with me the peace that I have gained.
Chosei-kan, 449 Nagatorocho Chichibugun 369-1305 Saitama
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Jenny Block is the author of “Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage” (Seal Hardcover, June 2008 and Seal Paperback, March 2009), which has been nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. She writes a weekly column for the Dallas Morning News publication Quick called “Sex Talk with Jenny Block” (quickdfw.com). Jenny holds both her BA and her MA in English from Virginia Commonwealth University and taught college composition for nearly ten years. She writes for a wide variety of publications and websites, including huffingtonpost.com, yourtango.com, American Way, Veranda, the Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Voice, edgedallas.com, literarymama.com, Spirit, chow.com, and ellegirl.com.