Saturday, October 27, 2012

World Peace Via a Hot Spring Named Mugennosato (夢幻の里)

This outdoor hot spring, rotenburo (露天風呂), was full of laughter, friendship among strangers, and hope. It was one of those magical times when people relax in a hot spring and create unexpected connectionsThe Japanese idiom hadaka no tsukiai, which literally means “naked relationship,” describes the fellowship that develops when nothing is hidden.
Hadakanotsukiai 裸の付き合
The forest setting, warm soothing water, and ambiance of the hot spring led the Japanese, Brazilian, Korean, American, Australian, and Canadian bathers to enjoy themselves despite nationalistic barriers. Linguistic hurdles were surmounted by smiles and other body language. This photograph was taken by a Korean man who sent the photograph to the Brazilian bather who conveyed it to the Australian man who later passed it to me. This wonderful hot spring is in Beppu, Japan.

This simple time in a Japanese hot spring gave me a vision of a path to world peace. We should transfer the United Nations from the hectic, overpopulated, urban-jungle environment of New York City to the rustic onsen town of Beppu. All meetings should transpire in hot springs, and all diplomats must be naked. People behave less aggressively when they are naked than when their frail bodies are concealed behind power ties and thousand-dollar suits. International negotiations could take place while passing the soap back and forth. (Diplomats, please remember to soap up and rinse off before entering the bath.)

Our common humanity is clearly apparent when we are naked with others in a hot spring! (A reader commented that the photograph shows people concealing their private parts. This is true. You will have to go to the hot spring for the real experience.)


The name of this wonderful hot spring is Mugennosato (夢幻の里).  Located in the hills above the town of Beppu, the distance from town and the abundant greenery make for a special experience for the low price of 500 yen per person.  This hot spring is definitely one of the top thirty or so springs that have made it to my top ten list of springs within Beppu.  Beppu reportedly has over 2,000 individual hot springs, so choosing the best ten is impossible.   
Another spring that has made it to my top ten list of Beppu hot springs is Nabeyama Hot Spring. If you like remote hot springs that require a hike to reach, that have a great view, and that are very earthy, most likely you will love this one.

A Japanese television program made a special report on Mugennosato, the Japanese onsen described at the beginning of this post. Click to view. If you do not read Japanese, click on either the broad band or the narrow band button at the top of the page.

See you in Beppu or at some other wonderful hot spring in Japan!