|The Diversity and Serenity of Hot Springs|
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Published Article About Hot Springs
After a long hiatus, the hot spring addict will soon be adding more posts. He just got too damn busy, lost his way in the busy work world, and dried out. But a good long soak in a hot spring with a mind-altering view of a cosmic blue sky and energetic ocean revitalized his writing soul! Eye-Ai Magazine just accepted my article about hot springs. "The Diversity and Serenity of Hot Springs" is in the June 2012 edition.
My article briefly introduces the reader to hot springs in relation to Japanese culture. Here are the first two paragraphs:
Bathing naked with friends, neighbors, family members, and even strangers is a Japanese custom. Scandalous as this might seem to non-Japanese, it is a very natural and innocent practice that promotes relaxation, health, and bonding. Communal bathing is usually not done in homes, but in public or private hot springs. The Japanese idiom hadaka no tsukiai, which literally means “naked relationship,” describes the fellowship that develops when nothing is hidden. Only a miniscule towel is used to cover the intimate parts, and that towel is often used as a headband. In a hot spring, the body in all of its beauty and its imperfections is nothing to be ashamed of. The custom of communal bathing goes back thousands of years.
Some hot springs have connections with ancient Japanese religious practices. The Furusato Kanko Hotel on the island of Sakurajima, Kagoshima, has a shrine with a hot spring on the premises. Males and females bathe together, but nudity is forbidden. All bathers must wear special white cotton robes, or yukata. White signifies purity in the Shinto religion. At the base of a cliff is a tree of great age, and hot water gushes out from between its huge roots. In front of the tree is a red torii, or shrine gate. The edge of the bath is just meters from the clear blue sea of Kagoshima Bay. Fishing boats slowly pass by, birds fly overhead, and the entire experience purifies the soul and body.