konyokuburo, stone baths on the side of a mountainous forest. Meters of snow surround the small baths in winter. The air is crisp and clean. In spring, summer, and fall sunlight filters through layers of colorful leaves. Distant vistas appear between gaps in branches or spaces between trees. Breezes carry earthy forest aromas.
fanatics I have ever met. While we were speaking, a group of six Australians joined us in the bath.
Our conversation about Japanese hot springs continued until we all headed up the hill. Later in the parking lot way above the hot spring, he showed us photographs that he took out from his car. We saw him and his hot-spring-addicted friends building rocky baths around natural springs in various forests. He was rightfully proud of the baths that they had constructed in remote woods. The baths were simple baths constructed from natural materials. The people I saw were members of a Japanese subculture, people who relish relaxation in natural surroundings and are willing to work hard for their sensual pleasures. I love the springs built by such people. For me, natural hot springs are the best part of Japanese culture. Anime, manga, and cosplay are interesting, but it is the hot spring culture of Japan that touches my soul and warms my body.