|Muddy and Healthy|
Nabeyama Hot Spring ( 鍋山湯), which is in the remote hills of Beppu, Japan. A short hike will be the appetizer before the main dish, a long soak in rock-edged baths in which you can enjoy communing with nature for free. After soaking in the mud, you can clean up in a nearby natural spring of transparent hot mineral water. Be prepared, you might to share the mud with a member of the opposite gender.
|Happy Muddy Face|
Okuyama Ryokan (奥山旅館). Okuyama Ryokan is just one of a few buildings in a village that is perched like a nest in the mountainous interior of Japan that most foreigners miss. This inn has several indoor and outdoor baths with all the mud you desire. Some people like to leave their hand prints on the walls or wooden posts. Getting into the baths is like soaking in any other spring. But if you scrape your hands along the bottoms, you can get a nice handful of squishy mud for smoothing over your body or creating prehistoric-looking art.
Across Japan, in Kumamoto Prefecture on the island of Kyushu is another wonderful bathing facility called Suzume-no-yu. All sorts of baths, clear and muddy, indoor and outdoor, same sex and separated, are available. This was my first exposure to both mud baths and mixed-sex bathing. I was surprised to share baths with a wide range of young and old people who were all barely covered with towels. A few older ladies were not very particular whether their breasts were exposed or not. The environment and the atmosphere was as relaxed as the mud-and-heat-soaked bodies. Alas, this was years before I started blogging, and I lack photographs to show you.You just have to go there yourself.