Since I had the weekend to myself, I decided to pick the farthest onsen I could get to conveniently and headed out. It was a nice hot spring in the mountains around Gunma, complete with authentic rotten egg sulfur smell, a rarity when so many commercially-operated “hot springs” use boilers to heat their water and only offer a single volcanically heated bath to avoid problems with truth-in-advertising laws. As is often the case in our rural part of Japan, I was the only foreigner in the place — this has more to do with me doing “Japanese” things than it does with there being no foreigners in our prefecture — and there were several children who couldn’t help but stare a bit at the big gaijin. There was one cute boy who was explaining to me which baths were hot and which were cold, and then he’d tell me his name in English repeatedly, which he’d learned in school. As usual, I’m extremely careful when interacting with kids here to never do anything “scary” that might harm their opinion of foreigners, since I’m often the first encounter with a “southern barbarian” for them.
I just can’t say no to a good onsen bath.