Onsen Trip

Onsen Vacations

A few weekends ago I went to Kinosaki with some friends for an extended weekend. Went went there for the purpose of going to hot springs, which, I have done before so I didn’t think it was such a big deal. Kinosaki is a few hours from Osaka by train. The trip was nice, so I would recommend it to anyone who is going to be in the kansai area with extra time.

First of all, everyone who got off the train at Kinosaki station was there for the sole purpose of going to onsen. I mean Everyone. When we got to the station there was a free bus that would drive around the city and take people to different ryokans, Japanese style inns. We got out of the bus and got changed and ready to hit the onsen. There was one right inside of the ryokan so it was very convienent. After we did that for a while, my friends told me that we were gonna go around town and hit another one.

(Actually a naked man in the first onsen with me recommended that I check out other places as well… naked man to man onsen talks are always fun.)


Foot only Onsen, Ashiyu

Another onsen? We just finished one though… Another surprise was that everyone left the room in their inn provided yukata’s. You know, those stylish cotton bathrobes that foreigners love so much. At the front of the inn there were “geta”, Japanese wooden sandels, for everyone, so we put those on and clomped our way outside.

Once we got outside I was surprised to see that nearly everyone out on the street was dressed the same as us. Yukata, geta, towels in hand. Everyone was getting ready to hit the next onsen just like us! We continued our onsen romp and went to about three different places. I’m not sure what the deal is with that… I don’t think that the water quality was any different between the different onsens…

I guess it is just fun to walk between the different buildings. It was cloudy that day, so it was interesting going from steaming hot onsen to slightly chilly night air over and over again. I was told that people even do the same in the winter.

After all those onsen visits it was -very- easy to sleep once we got back to the inn. Super relaxed.

This has been an especially cheesy journal entry, but with some decent pictures to make up for it.

Thank you beri macchi.

Oh yeah. There’s this lame game where you shoot things down to win prizes all over this town. There is also a horizontal pachinko type game famous in the town as well.

-Harvey

Osaka Noodles City

I went to Osaka Noodles City a few weekends ago.

There is a new area in Osaka called Nanba Parks, and Osaka Noodles City is one of the most popular restaurants, from what I could see. Posters around
Nanba park compared the parks to Central Park in New York City. Maybe it is the closest thing in Osaka to Central Park… but, take my word for it, they are very different things.

The store offers many of the different styles of noodles that can be found in Japan all in one place. They have Kishimen from Nagoya, Romen from Nagano, Hakata Ramen from… Hakata… and some other things that I honestly couldn’t tell you all about. I had a kind of cold udon from a place up north near Akitaken. Good stuff. This handout shows which shop represents which noodles from where. Here is a picture of a handout with some of the different dishes.

The entire park complex just opened last week, so there are a lot of 観光客 even from just within Japan. Visitors… The park actually has plants and things, so it seems that lots of old people show up just to get their “nature” fix for the month. You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to spot grass while living in the big cities of Japan….

When we found the restaurant because there was a huge line in front of it. We lined up at about 11:50, and were told that the wait would be about two hours. If I wasn’t coming from out of town
I never would have waited, but, we decided to. We got into the restaurant at about 12:30. One of the Osaka-jins that was with us told me that they told us the huge wait on purpose. Since Kansai people are considered to be so noisy, many of them will get upset and leave if told there is such a long wait. This is good, cause they’ll be back later when it’s not so crowded. Also, if told 2 hours, and they get in after only waiting 30 minutes, they’re 大喜び、 super happy. If they are told 30 min, and get in after a 35 min wait, heads will roll.

Well, maybe not that extreme, but it’s fun playing the stereotypes. Heh.

Once you enter the restaurant, there is a separate restaurant for each type of noodle you can try.
Hakata Ramen seemed to be the most popular with an additional hour wait or so, while the place with Italian
noodles was pretty much empty. There is also a noodle gift shop next door with over priced noodles of every variety you can check out before you leave.

If you get to Osaka anytime soon, check it out. It’s a pretty fun place!

On a totally unrelated note, I just decided I want a new pair of jeans. Levis here can cost like 100 bucks. 12000 yen. Not even joking. There was one store with a pair of jeans that were all beat up in a glass case. I kid you not.

I’ll be wearing my boroboro zubon until they vanish thank you very much.

-Harvey

Boke – Tsukkomi

Comic Culture

Japanese comedy is unique when compared to comedy styles in other parts of the world, but even within Japan the styles of comedy vary greatly. One aspect of Kansai style comedy called ‘tsukkomi’ and ‘boke’ is particularly interesting.

West Side Japan is known for its comedy. There are stand up acts, game shows which are really just comedy shows in disguise, and what is known as ‘manzai’. I am sure there are other styles that I am not aware of as well.

One particular ‘style’ of Japanese comedy that pops up in all of these different comedy styles however involves the ‘tsukkomi’ and ‘boke’.

‘Boke’ and ‘Tsukkomi’ describe the roles that can be taken by two people in a relationship. The ‘Boke’ is the person who will occasionally say stupid things, or make silly mistakes. The ‘Tsukkomi’ is then the character who catches these mistakes and dishes out explosive yet warm hearted punishment to the ‘Boke’. Often, the punishment that the ‘boke’ delivers includes a smack to the back of the head.

For example.

Boke: Wow, there are so many ‘gaijin’ in America, it’s amazing…

*HEAD SMACK*

Tsukkomi: Of course there are lots of gaijin in America! It’s a foreign country moron!

This is pretty funny. There is even an arcade simulation of this. I have never seen anyone playing it though, nor have I tried myself.

For a ‘Boke’ and ‘Tsukkomi’ relationship to work, it is up to each party to play their roles well. If a ‘tsukkomi’ is going to ‘tsukomu’ the ‘boke’ correctly, the ‘boke’ should not feel unhappy as a result of being ‘tsukomu’ed’. It should be a funny, silly event that both people can enjoy. If the ‘tsukkomi’ is slacking and doesn’t notice when the ‘boke’ is purposely saying something silly, he may hear ‘お前、そこでつっこめよ!’ ‘Man, you gotta tsukkomu me on those!’ Likewise, if the ‘boke never does anything silly or fails to play his ‘boke’ role, then
the ‘tsukkomi’ will never have a chance to ‘tsukkomu’.

‘Boke’ and ‘Tsukkomi’ culture is so deep in Japan, that it is actually quite common to use the terms when describing someone’s personality. What’s Reiko like? ‘kanari boke dayo’. People will be expected to get along well if one is naturally a ‘boke’ and one is naturally a ‘tsukkome’ type.

While watching Japanese comedy shows on TV you should be able to identify the ‘boke’ character, and the ‘tsukkomi’ character very easily, try it and see if you can pick it out. Once you get really good, you can start labeling your friends for type as well!

-Harvey