Still Living The Life Of A Stripper

In the paragraphs below y’all will be reading information which I finally had time to transcribe from a recorded talk I had with a very good friend of mine and former employer. She discusses the life of a stripper, how to make money, what to do with that money, personal safety, and so much more. I encourage y’all to set some time aside to read the information she has provided as it is considerably lengthy. It also provides insight to her personal accomplishments and how she has become a successful businesswoman. There are very different professions for all of the people who want to work, hopefully this will show y’all a different view of the world a stripper lives in. This could very easily be done as three separate posts but I’m an all you can eat buffet kind of guy who likes to get my fill all in one sitting. So, with that being said, here we go.

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To begin with let me say that I started stripping at the age seventeen with a fake identification and a fast talking mouth. With that resting comfortably in the back of your head I also opened my own full nude strip club at the age of 24 in Houston and have since opened another location in Dallas. There are a great deal of misconceptions out there about strippers and that is something you will have to deal with if you enter the profession. I will say this, I truly enjoy what I do and I have never felt exploited because I’m a stripper. In fact I have always felt it was far more personally empowering than any other profession. But stripping is not for everyone. It requires a certain temperament. Don’t go and become a stripper because you feel you “have” to. If you hate what you do it will show and you will make very little money as a stripper. The minute you start dancing the clock is ticking. There are a limited number of years in which to make as much money as you can. Most dancers retire around 27. If you’re starting when you’re 18 that gives you nine years in which to make as much money as you can and then get out. Chances are you will never again be able to make as much per day as you do while stripping. Make the most of of the time.

There are two kinds of strippers, subsistence and capital strippers. A subsistence stripper just works enough to get by. Maybe a few days a week, saves little and is always in a financial crisis. I see these girls panicking to get enough dances to pay rent the next day but by the next week they are back to partying, doing drugs, buying expensive clothes and generally pissing away every dime they earn. Their plans for the future are vague at best and even though they claim to realize they can’t dance forever they seldom save and invest their money or invest in an education. These girls get out of the business no better then they started and spend the rest of their lives getting their ass pinched in menial, low paying jobs. A capital stripper dances as an investment. In my opinion this is the only reason to strip. Stripping is just too hard a way to earn a living to do it for just enough to “get by”. You can get by on a McDonalds salary. If you are going to have guys staring at your naked ass all evening you should at least be securing a decent future for yourself, not just tomorrow’s groceries and rent. There are many excuses for not saving your money but in my experience few of them are valid. Single mother, health problems whatever, you can still afford to save. If you work hard you can make a great deal of money stripping.

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When you see that money in your hand it just doesn’t seem real, and when you keep seeing it night after night it seems like the supply will be endless. It’s really not, you need to put away the largest portion you can. Not just 10% or so but 40% or 60%. It is possible to do that and still live a very comfortable life. Strippers tend to live beyond their means and end up with nothing but memories of that nice sports car or that fancy apartment. If you can just keep it under control for a few years you can have that stuff for the rest of your life, long after you’re done stripping. Live within your means; base your spending around not what you make stripping but what you would make at a good entry-level job. Get a good, reliable car but you don’t need that giant SUV or fast sports car. Make sure your lease or car loan doesn’t rely on a strippers level of income to pay it. Same goes for the rent or mortgage. It’s very easy to fall on heels and break an ankle or tear up your knee, it happens all the time. You could be out of work for weeks or even months. You don’t want to be buried under a mountain of bills. I suggest buying at least basic health insurance but if you don’t you will need at least enough savings to pay for emergencies.

So what to do with the money you save? Well, set enough aside to pay for all of your expenses like food, housing, tuition, utilities, car, whatever for 4 months. This is your emergency fund, put it in your saving account and don’t spend it. The rest you should invest. I have a few well chosen mutual funds that I have been very happy with. As a stripper you’re looking to invest for the long term, at least 5 years and probably 10. Mutual funds are low maintenance and are well suited for this purpose. I strongly advise against investing in individual stocks. Despite all tales of buying low and selling high at the end of the year very few people are able to make money off buying and selling individual stocks. Stick with mutual funds, they are safer and more reliable (at least for the novice investor).

The best possible investment you can make is an education. With a nice big nest egg and a good degree you can do just about anything you want when you retire from stripping. Without an education or any job skills that money will eventually be gone. With an education you can make the most of your savings, use it as capital for your own business or invest it for a steady source of income. Too many strippers talk about how they’re planning on going back to school or they’re just taking a semester off. This is bullshit, if you want an education you need to go to school and work hard. If you’re not going to school then you’re pissing away your own future.

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At most clubs you will walk around and ask the customers if they’d like a private dance (or lap dance depending on the club). Some clubs just have stage dancing. Often there is a private area that you can go for a dance. Be careful, though, the dim lights and the privacy tend to make the guys a little frisky. Not in a bad or scary way just in a way that may need to be corrected. The most important thing to do when you’re dancing is to smile and make eye contact. Nothing turns a guy off faster then a stripper strolling bored around the stage while staring vacantly off into space. Try to make each guy you’re dancing for think he’s the only guy you’re dancing for. This is how the pros make the big bucks. At many clubs a significant part of your nightly earnings comes from private dances. Most of the time the customer will pay for you to sit and talk with them as well. Guys vary a lot but it’s always important to be attentive. Nobody likes to feel like they’re being ignored. Most guys are pretty nice and easy to talk to. Provided you’re a good listener and act interested, it’s no problem. Then you get the guys who aren’t trying to be obnoxious, they just don’t have the best social skills. They will sit and alternate between nagging you to go out with them and lying about how much money they have, how many places they’ve traveled, how important they are in their company, etc. Simpering and looks of wide-eyed wonder come in handy at this point. Some guys are an absolute pleasure to sit with, they buy plenty of dances, they visit on a regular basis, and best of all they’re lots of fun to talk too. It’s guys like this who really make it all worth while.

When dancing it’s important to stay motivated, at most clubs you are an independent contractor. You won’t get fired if you don’t work hard and no one will say anything if you decide to hang out at the bar and talk all night talking to the bartender. You need to treat being a stripper like a job and not a social experience. Decide on what time and how long you will have dinner for, the rest of the time work the floor as hard as you can. Make sure you always get at least 8 hours of sleep so you’re not tired. You’ll look and feel better. Set a clear goal, try to get 4 dances and hour, as you get better set higher goals for yourself. Never assume a passive approach and wait for them to call you over, stay moving and keep working. If it’s hard and you just can’t get motivated make a game of it, make bets with other girls on who can get the most dances. Promise yourself ice cream if you reach a certain goal, whatever you have to do to stay motivated and keep earning that money.

Learning how to properly break the ice and get invited to sit with a customer takes time. Most girls tend to just walk around to every guy in the room and ask “Wanna dance?” and then when he says no walk off. This is the exact wrong approach. Every guy in that room has enough money for at least one dance and you just have to find the right words to get them to buy one or more. “Wanna dance?” can work in a very crowded room or if a guy is already interested but it will do absolutely nothing to convince a guy who was uninterested to change his mind. It’s too easy to say no to and that is usually what happens. To start with, choose your targets, who is looking at you the most when you are on stage or dancing for other customers? Talk to the bartender (always be friends and take to the bartender) and the floor hosts about who has an open tab or has been spending a lot of money. If a bartender or floor hosts gives you a good lead and you make money ALWAYS tip them at the end of the night and that way next time they will go to you first when they see a big spender. When you approach your prospective customer try and say anything but “Wanna dance?”: would you like some company?, would you like if I joined you? If the room is slow and he seems reluctant put a very slight push on. If he says he’s not interested ask if he would mind if you just sat down and rested your feet for a minute- you’re “not used to these heels”. Few men are going to say no to that, and the “not used to these heels” implies that you’re a new dancer and invites conversation. If 10 minutes go by and he still doesn’t buy a dance don’t ask- just say “I’m sorry, I’ve got to get back to work- it’s been nice talking to you okay?” This implies that you didn’t consider sitting with him work, a slight bit of flattery that will get you a dance later. Think of this approach as “seeding” in that you may not get the dance then, but chances are you will later. After a half-hour of “wanna dance” from the other girls he’s going to wish for your company again and probably be willing to pay for it. Or even the next time he comes in your’s will be the familiar face. With this approach it’s important you not spend too long with them, always keep them hungry. Unless they’re paying don’t sit with them longer then 10 to 15 minutes and only that long if the room is very slow. If they’re used to getting it for free it’s going to be hard to get them to pay for it. You’re friendly and available and they just have to be willing to pay for it.

Never ever, sit on your own or hang out at the bar talking to other strippers. At any given time you should be either sitting with a customer, moving to another customer or on stage getting naked. If you’re just standing around they will assume you’re not busy and it will be very hard to get a customer to pay for your time because “you’re not doing anything anyway”. Look busy, if they think other men want you then they will want you. It’s important you have respect for the money they give you, so much money changes hands that girls often forget what it represents. Let’s say your customer earns $40,000 a year after taxes- probably about average income for a stripclub patron in Houston. That works out to around $20 an hour. If a customer sits with you and you make $100, that’s 5 hours of his time. If a handyman came to your house and fixed thing for 5 hours you’d say “thank you” right? Always thank the customer and make sure he knows you mean it. Even if $100 doesn’t seem like a lot of money to you to the average customer it is.

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One last thing, don’t screw with guys’ heads. It’s not cool, you can make money without doing it. I see lots of girls who string guys along implying they’ll go out with them if they just visit a few more times or laying on sob stories about their sick children or parents. Don’t do it, there is never any reason for you to lie as a stripper. After a few repetitions it gets very fake and you just come off as a greedy gold digging bitch. If you want customers to treat you with respect you should treat them with respect. If they are disrespectful just walk away, there is no reason for you to sink to their level. There are more then enough good men who will to pay you to sit, talk and laugh with them and when you dance they will treat you like a goddess. As customers they deserve your courtesy and if they don’t respect you in return they don’t deserve to have you spend time with them. Safety is a critical issue for strippers. Many menaked not understand that what we sell is a fantasy or feel that our employment makes us fair game for unwanted attentions. The six dumbest words that can leave a woman’s mouth are “I can take care of myself”. No you can’t, and get any notion that you’re some kind of tough girl out of your head. Men are bigger, stronger and meaner. They’ve been beating and raping women for thousands of years now and have pretty much got it down pat. Your little kick boxing lessons at the health club will not help you. If a grown man hits you full force you will be knocked unconscious and very likely break the bones in your face. Do not ever make safety decisions based on your opinion of your ability to defend yourself.

I personally think that carrying weapons or taking martial art, self-defense classes etc. are a bad idea for most women. The most effective way to survive is to be scared; anything that makes you brave makes you more likely to walk into a dangerous situation. If you have a gun in your purse you might be more likely to take that shortcut home, or take a ride with a man you don’t know very well or any number of risky things. If you’re scared you’re careful, if you’re careful you don’t get into trouble. If you are a feature stripper, have a very public presence (website or modeling), or have had problems with a stalker then a gun may be something you want to consider purchasing. You need to be trained in it’s use and practice with it at a firing range at least once every few months. Don’t bother carrying one unless you comfortable with the idea of killing someone. That’s what guns are for, you’re not going to be shooting knives out of anyone’s hands, you’re going to be trying to make a hole in the center of their torso. If you have small hands like me you can have a gunsmith machine a trigger guard that will comfortable fit your finger but too small for the finger of a grown man. But I would like to emphasize, most women are far better off not carrying a gun. Only if you are in a position of constantly being exposed to unavoidable danger is it an option.

One never wishes to blame the victim but every single girl I know without exception who has ever gotten into trouble was doing something most women would consider risky or just plain stupid. Don’t take chances- the stakes are too high. As a stripper, leaving the club after work is the time when you are most vulnerable. I have only gotten scared twice at work. On both occasions it was when an overly enthusiastic customer decided to wait for me outside the club after closing. On both occasions the men were just confused about the nature of what a stripper does and were quickly dealt with by security. This being said, transportation is a critical safety issue that you really have to think about. Going to work is not a problem because customers can’t really see where you are coming from. Leaving is when you have to be most vigilant. Public transportation is out of the question, it’s too easy to be followed and is rarely safe at the hours you’ll be riding. I’d suggest sharing a cab with one of the other girls. If you decide to drive, make very sure that your car is reliable, last thing you need is a break down on an empty road at 3AM. A cell phone is a good thing to have. Make sure when you register you car you do it to another address (friend, parent, etc.). That way if some creep takes down your license plate number he can’t find out your home address. For obvious reasons never give any personal info to anyone who knows you as a stripper, including other strippers. There are strippers and bouncers who will give the information to customers for money or as a favor. There is no reason anyone needs to know anything but your stage name. Don’t tell them where you live or what school you go to no matter how trust worthy they seem. Once that information is out it’s very difficult to put back in the box.

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We are not all success stories. I had my eye on the prize the first time someone slipped money in my garter. I learned how to capitalize on a man’s willingness to part with his hard earned money to see me naked. Done properly, a stripper can sock away grand amounts of cash just by dancing naked, and it can end as a very fruitful career choice. Not every girl is a naturally born stripper, you have to be willing to work your ass off, and then the world holds endless possibilities for you.

Onsen (温泉) In The Land Of The Rising Sun

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I have been asked numerous times to write about my experiences living in Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun. So, I thought I might start a new series here chronicling how things were while living in Misawa Japan. Yes, it was the United States Air Force that brought me to Japan, but I want to talk about living there and not so much working there. The easiest place for me to start this all off is to tell about certain traditions that I chose to be a part of while living in the local economy. We rented a house deep in the heart of farm country, nothing new for me since I grew up in southeast Texas. The great thing about the location of this house was straight out the back door and across the parking lot there was an onsen (温泉) (public hot bath). This was important because the bath tub in the house was the size of a postage stamp. We were informed of what exactly it was and the traditions around the onsen there locally by our realtor.

My (ex)wife decided that going to the onsen was not something she was going to take part in. My wife was never real keen being naked in front of other people, high school gym and sports classes proved that fact to me years before. Which is strange because she was quite the quiet exhibitionist when it was just her and I out in public places. She was a closet tease to say the very least. However, that is yet another story altogether. We had it explained to us that the onsen setting was not unlike group showers in American high schools or in public and private gyms. Fair enough, seems like the Japanese got the whole keeping clean thing under control because most local neighborhoods had an onsen or three. Not to mention the large resorts that were centered around the very ornate onsens inside them. We were lucky, we lived in billeting (on-base hotel) for close to two weeks because of the snowstorms that had blown through. This time allowed our belonging to meet us in Japan and gave us time to purchase the other furniture we needed. All we shipped were our clothes, a television, a vcr, towels and wash cloths, dishes, pots and pans, a hand-me-down couch, and my king-size water bed.

The day arrived where we took possession of our rental house. It was brand new, one of eight houses built-in this courtyard style block. It was a townhouse, like the rest, we all shared a common “drive” which all of the houses faced with a one car car-port to the side. We were the first people to ever live in the house since it was built. It had a layout we were familiar with which was way different from other houses we looked at. On that same day our belongings arrived and were hastily unpacked by 2 very fast men. Also, the other furniture and furnishings we purchased were also delivered and set up. After some unpacking we needed to go back to billeting to gather our belongings and check out. It never crossed my mind, looking back, to grab a quick shower after such a long day. When we got back to the house she was tired so she laid out on the couch for a nap. I looked in our bathroom for the bath tub, I wanted to soak my cold bones for a while. What did I find? Well, the entire bathroom was a shower basically, if that makes any sense, and in the corner there was a tub created out tile set around three feet into the floor. This “tub” measured 30 inches by 30 inches square. No way to lay out in that tub for sure, it wasn’t happening.

I needed to get cleaned up however, so I told my wife I was going next-door to check the onsen out. It was the 2nd week of January, the temp was about 3 degrees farenheit, the wind was blowing at around 40 mph, and there was close to 4 feet of snow on the ground. I grabbed my wallet, flip-flops, shave kit, my shoes, a towel, walked out back across the parking lot. I had no clue what to do and everything was in Japanese. We lived far enough from the base that they didn’t see too many Americans on purpose. Luckily, the women who was clearing the water and snow from the entrance “showed” me where to remove my shoes, place them in the cubicle, and put on my flip-flops. Then she pointed me in the direction of the lobby. In the lobby there were a multitude of vending machines that sold everything, and when I say everything I mean anything from food, drinks, toiletries, clothes, cars, a date, porn, and tokens to the hot bath of course. I was surprised, the token for the hot bath was the U.S. equivalent to about 65 cents. As soon as my token dropped I heard a grizzly grunt at me who was the man behind me holding his hand out pointing that I should put my token in it. So I did and he then led me the men’s side of the bath house.

It had a typical look to a locker room I guess. Benches to get undressed, sinks and mirrors, and toilet stalls as well. As I was getting undressed I wasn’t sure where to put my belongings so I had to look around like a pervert stalker to see what others were doing. Okay, it’s really simple, place all of it into what looks just like a laundry basket, and then place that into one of the cubicles. I found very fast that I had to get over my trust issues because nothing is secured or locked up. I grabbed my stuff out of my shaving kit and placed it in a small plastic container which I then took with me into the next area, following others as I was unsure of the “process”. Watch and learn right. The next room was the washing area. Reminded me of once when I was in 4H of the washing stations for the livestock. There were three double-sided concrete barriers which had numerous “stations” that included a mirror, a shower head, and the faucet. One sat down on a 6″ tall stool to bath. But watch out, I found out by being smacked in the leg, not to put any body part in the trough that ran at the base of the wall, which served as the drainage that led to a large grate down at the end. Who knew. I had picked a cozy spot right in the middle. I found out later that the desired spots are those at the top of the trough. Lesson learned.

Now, the funny part for you. I’m 6’8″ in the land of the little people, which got me more than one funny or cross look. This place was not built for people my size for sure. Now, it was allot like being at home, I shaved, brushed my teeth, washed my hair, bathed, then rinsed off. I need to mention the water had one temperature, freaking scalding hot. About midway through getting clean a very, very, old man, my guess was he was well over 100 years old, sat next to me. Standing to the rear of him was a young girl, I figured about 16 or 17, completely nude as well, began washing the old man. First thing I noticed is he took out his teeth and handed them to her to clean, which she did with what looked like Lava soap and a brush one would scrub floors with. I’ll admit, she had my attention. I think more so because we were on the all male side of the hot bath so she was quite an unexpected surprise. Perhaps she could see the confusion in my face because she squatted down next to me and began to talk, in great English I might add. She explained she was the great, great grand-daughter of this man, and it was tradition for the youngest to assist the eldest in daily tasks. She also explained that girls up to the age of 19 can assist on the male side and boys up to the age of 13 can assist on the female side. Interesting tidbit of information to say the least.

Nobody, and when I say nobody I mean nobody, paid her any attention whatsoever, except for me it would seem. More out of curiosity than anything really. Here I had only been in Japan for just a few weeks and I already have seen my first live nude Japanese female. I know what you are thinking, and yes she was young, but it was hard not to stare. I got up to go to the first sitting pool which was so hot I sat on the edge with only my legs in it at first, which were turning bright red as I sat there. The girl walked over her grand father to pool I was trying to get the courage to get into and helped him straight in up to his neck. Damn. She then scampered off to do her cleaning. When I forced myself down into the water, which took my breath away, I couldn’t help but to notice she was back. She entered the pool right at my eye level and tended to him. She sat with the old man for a while. I had seen others get out and move to the next pool, so I followed suit.

Now, I only thought the first sitting pool was hot, this one had it topped by at least 500 degrees, but I was able to slither right in because I was already cooking. The men sat in this one for a short period and then moved on. Like a lost puppy I followed them to the next pool. There should have been a sign on this pool, something that reads “Caution. Water Will Melt The Skin From Your Bones. Caution.”, but there was no warning for this Gaijin (外人) (look it up, it was the nickname the Japanese called the servicemen) and I found out the hard way. But, damn, did it feel good after the shock went away. One didn’t sit in this one very long at all. Then, they head to the steam room, a quaint, small room that had a 2 minute egg timer because it was so damn hot. So, in and out it was. I couldn’t breathe, my lungs were on fire, and I wanted to just die right there. Yea, clean up in the sauna please. When I exited the sauna I was basically grabbed by the arm to stop me from walking, I was shown to watch the man in front of me who was in a small “tank” which he was squatted in up over his head in the water. He was out and I was in. One fluid motion until the water covered my head, it took my breath away because it was a temperature just above freezing. Out of there just as fast as I went in. A quick wash off and I was on my way out.

After getting dressed I felt drained of all of my energy and will to live. I don’t think I have ever been that relaxed in my entire life. When I left the dressing room I was guided over to some tables where I was sat down. Soon after I was brought a cup of warm herbal tea and a bowl of some of the blandest noodle soup I have ever tasted. Come to find out, it was ginseng root soup and they weren’t noodles after all. It was to recharge a person, to put a little wang back in your step before you left. It was relaxing and it does bring the energy back. Come to find out it is all included in the price of admission. So far, I’m liking the onsen just behind my house. It was one hell of an experience and became my daily bad habit. I probably went there almost every single day for close to the five years I was there. When I went back home after my first time I really wanted to talk to my wife about it, but she didn’t show an interest or really care because she wasn’t ever going to try it out for herself.

About a year after my daughter was born my parents came to Japan to visit as their big summer trip. This part of the story I have been forbidden to ever tell my mother because, in my dad’s opinion (because he is old-fashioned), he saw things that he should feel guilty for seeing. Anyway, going to the onsen became my everyday, twice a day, habit because everyday that tiny postage stamp size bath tub got smaller and smaller. My dad made the comment that he wished to retire for the evening and was going to get washed up before bed. The look of horror on his face will remain forever priceless when he entered the bathroom and just as fast came out asking where the shower or tub were. So, I explained to him what I knew, well, not everything, but I explained how things were here. You see, he is 6’4″ @ about 265lbs, which makes it hard for him to squeeze into anything. After a brief discussion, we collected our things to head to the hot bath. I gave him one instruction, which was to just follow my lead and follow what I do so he doesn’t embarrass me.

We made the walk across the parking lot, it was fairly warm this time of year so the walk was pretty leisurely to say the least. We went through the “tourist” mode where I had to explain everything in the lobby to him. After 1 1/2 years I have really gotten good at reading Japanese and knew a handful of phrases to always get me on my way. After getting our tokens we entered the area to change out of our street clothes to get ready. Shortly after sitting down to begin the washing of ourselves I get a nudge on my arm from my dad. When I looked over to him he was 12 different shades of red with embarrassment and was holding his wash cloth over his privates. He was showing me that there were young females in the room so I had to go through the ordeal of explaining the traditions and protocols here. He played it off but I could see he was pretty bothered about it all. I remember my first time and after that it became common place, even routine enough where one doesn’t notice it as standing out any longer. We continued with what my routine had become, it really gets shortened to about a 30 minute trip as time moves on because one gets in and gets out. We did sit and have the tea and soup when we were done, sitting there in silence except for one simple command, “never speak of any of this to my mother, not even at her grave”. Unfortunately for my dad, this was his first and last trip to any of the hot bathes in Japan, he decided he could and would make do with the facilities we offered at the house.

Over the years I frequented a large sampling of onsen in my extended local area, my absolute personal favorite was a resort on the edge of town that was very cool. I didn’t go there too much, 3 or 4 times, because it was a fair drive and much more expensive. I was wondering how to explain the one at the resort because it was out of this world. Minecraft players or those familiar with Minecraft will understand better. Imagine taking the elevator down, getting of said elevator, and entering through some very large opaque glass doors. The changing area looked like all the other ones I had seen, pretty basic, but going into the hot bath area was incredible. Imagine opening a door and being in a very dense forest, looking up you see the tops of the trees and the stars in the sky. This place looked like being outdoors the way it was done up, it looked so real it made you touch the fake trees and the walls just to remind yourself you were a few stories underground. It’s just hard to explain I guess, but it throws all your senses for a loop with the big waterfalls and whatnot.

My (ex)wife never went to an onsen the entire time we were living in Japan, however, my daughter went with me on occasion once she started toddling. I learned allot while I was in Japan, beyond the language difference, beyond the cultural differences, and beyond the cuisine differences. Tradition is complex and deep-rooted, everything, and I mean everything when I say everything, had a meaning of some sort. The people I interacted with where I lived locally became to know me all to well. I would get invited to a stranger’s house a few doors down for snacks or people would bring local cuisine or gifts to my house as gestures of our “friendship”. Fortunately for me, I chose to immerse myself in the culture and get to know as much as I could. The hot baths were just the tip of what I would take away from Japan when I left. Ask my (ex)wife and she would only be able to tell you the tourist places we went to go visit. Its sad, but very true, but then again, she never got over being roughly 6600 miles from her mother the entire time we were there.

So, this was interesting and fun for me. It was nice to take a trip back in time to a place I really enjoyed living on the northern tip of Japan. I look forward to writing more of these specific subject related posts about living in Japan. Who knows, maybe I will expand and just write about everywhere I have been. Well, I can’t write about “everywhere” I have been, but I can give some insight about place x and place y without giving away the actual place or why I was there. Everywhere I traveled in the world was a “challenge” in its own special way. Until we meet again, thank y’all for taking the time to read a little bit about my life in Japan.

Onsen, as defined by Wikipedia:

  • Onsen (温泉?) is a term for hot springs in the Japanese language, though the term is often used to describe the bathing facilities and inns around the hot springs. As a volcanically active country, Japan has thousands of onsen scattered along its length and breadth. Onsen were traditionally used as public bathing places and today play a central role in directing Japanese domestic tourism. Onsen come in many types and shapes, including outdoor (露天風呂 or 野天風呂, roten-buro or noten-buro?) and indoor baths. Baths may be either public run by a municipality or private (内湯, uchiyu?) often run as part of a hotel, ryokan or bed and breakfast (民宿, minshuku?). Onsen are a central feature of Japanese tourism often found out in the countryside but there are a number of popular establishments still found within major cities. They are a major tourist attraction drawing Japanese couples, families or company groups who want to get away from the hectic life of the city to relax. Japanese often talk of the virtues of “naked communion” (裸の付き合い, hadaka no tsukiai?)[1] for breaking down barriers and getting to know people in the relaxed homey atmosphere of a ryokan with an attached onsen. Japanese television channels often feature special programs about local onsens. The presence of an onsen is often indicated on signs and maps by the symbol ♨ or the kanji, 湯 (yu, meaning “hot water”). Sometimes the simpler hiragana character ゆ (yu) is used, to be understandable to younger children. Traditionally, onsen were located outdoors, although a large number of inns have now built indoor bathing facilities as well. Onsen by definition use naturally hot water from geothermally heated springs. Onsen should be differentiated from sentō, indoor public bath houses where the baths are filled with heated tap water. The legal definition of an onsen includes that its water must contain at least one of 19 designated chemical elements, including radon and metabolic acid and be 25 °C or warmer before being reheated. Stratifications exist for waters of different temperatures. Major onsen resort hotels often feature a wide variety of themed spa baths and artificial waterfalls in the bathing area utaseyu (打たせ湯?). Onsen water is believed to have healing powers derived from its mineral content. A particular onsen may feature several different baths, each with water with a different mineral composition. The outdoor bath tubs are most often made from Japanese cypress, marble or granite, while indoor tubs may be made with tile, acrylic glass or stainless steel. Different onsen also boast about their different waters or mineral compositions, plus what healing properties these may contain. Other services like massages may be offered. People often travel to onsen with work colleagues, friends, couples or their families.

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