|Sumo wrestlers on screen at the JNTO event|
And they're fun. Considering my very last blog post was about the fear of getting undressed in Japan, it seemed very timely that a number of the speakers mentioned onsen, or hot springs. They seemed to have some idea that we Aussies might feel a bit daunted by the process - the Consul General had this to say:
Meet the local people and have a chat ... it is the Japanese custom to get into a hot spring in your birth suit. Don't be afraid to "get your gear off" and get into a hot spring!But I still don't think any of them really understood just how far removed this experience is from our (somewhat prudish) culture - as someone who's been there, their numerous pictures of onsen experiences did look beautiful but I could just feel nearly everyone around me looking at the complicated pre-bath wash stands and the men with folded flannels on their head and wondering why on earth anyone would ever visit an onsen!
|Preaching to the converted: Enticing things for me to do in Japan!|
One of the last speakers was from Okinawa. I thought everybody knew about Okinawa, but most of the room claimed to never have heard of it (have you?). I had a ball on Okinawa - it's such a fun combination of Japan and not-Japan (and you can probably only understand that once you've been there!) - although the most memorable part for me was the fact that I booked the trip with a travel agent in Osaka using only my dodgy Japanese language skills, so I was pretty impressed that we actually got there and had a car and hotel waiting.
I came home with my head full of Japanese memories. I'd spent a lot of time before and after the presentations chatting with some lovely Japanese people and reminiscing about the various parts of Japan I'd visited (if you want a quick summary: check my 25 things to do in Japan post). I was a bit shocked to realise that it's almost ten years since I left Japan, which surely makes it about time to go back again. It sounds to me like it hasn't changed too much - I hope it never does. A very unique land full of very special people.
JNTO didn't ask me to write this ... apart from a couple of drinks and nibbles, I haven't been compensated in any way for this post. It's all true! Japan is awesome!!