Monday, 2 December 2013

Steam and Scent

Beppu is steam filled. Hot sand burials and volcanic gas scented. Laying our weary heads on tatami mat basics, before we allowed sleep take us, we crept to Beppu's ancient bathing house. We silently prepared and dressed in yukata, laid down as invited in the heat of black sand, while strong ladies gently shovelled the hot grains over and around our bodies, toes to chin. We lay there cooking, pinned like moths to a cork board for ten long beautiful minutes. The heaviness of that sand mass rendered us joyfully helpless. The deepest of sleeps ensued after softly reading a tale of old Japan.  On waking we ascended the hill to the Scent Museum, where we created a fragrance like lab technicians. Pipettes, test tubes, measuring cups, masculine/feminine tones, millimetre scent subtlety, infused nostrils nuances, musk, tobacco, citrus. Fifteen mls of each other.

With thermal clad legs, we peeled away our layers to steam like ebi/prawns in the communal leg baths. Our lunch was lowered into the natural wooden 'Hells' for a perfectly steamed 'onsen tamago'. Warmed to our cores we feasted on naturally cooked tabemono then boarded the long warm train into the coldest of Taketa nights.