Lavender air in Bath, Aslan scraping dragon scales, a polluted river being cleansed in Spirited Away, blue hot springs in Iceland, ancient Roman ruins, Jesus washing feet. These are the images I had when going to the bath house.
There is a Korean style bathhouse called Olympus Spa in my area. Elemental hot rooms, mugwort steam, herbal sauna, hot baths, scrubs, a tea house, Korean food, robes and shower caps….It’s exactly what you’re picturing.
I had always wanted to go to a bath house after seeing Spirited Away, if only to experience something entirely different from anything I’d ever done before. My grand idea was to watch Spirited Away and then go with some friends. But there aren’t many people in the world who are interested in getting naked with a bunch of women and watching anime!
But recently something amazing happened: I started hanging out with Joey.
Not only did she already go there with a bunch of friends for her 30th, she also has done a blog post about Miyazaki. Perfection. In the end, she invited me. Along with Stephanie, who frequents the place!
What I didn’t expect was to completely fall in love with the whole concept. Communal bathing absolutely entrenches you in a feeling of “We are all base, and therefore beautiful.” There are no perfect bodies, no magazine images here. We come as we are and leave squeaky clean.
Silence. Warmth. Comraderie. Relaxation.
You can pay extra for a massage, nail care, chocolate or seaweed wraps, a scrub…I decided I might as well try being scrubbed and bathed at least once in my life (Well, besides when I was a baby, although I don’t remember being scraped so viciously.)
I loved it.
I kept imagining myself as Eustace as a dragon, Aslan scraping him, hurting him to clean him. A baptism of sorts. It felt physically and spiritually delicious. Is that shocking? Maybe so, but all the beds were full so I assume I’m not the only one. (I should say that I have had a few nagative reports about the experience as well, so maybe you should get a massage instead :)
For a while I thought I wasn’t going to write about it because conjuring images of my naked body to the blog world isn’t exactly my forte. But if a bath house is something you need, I want you to know that it’s not so bizarre as you might think!
The Baths of Caracalla
Pauline Baynes’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away