We Are Veterans Every Day Of The Year


Every once in a while there is something that rubs me the wrong fucking way and typically I try to keep my big mouth shut because my words fall on deaf ears. I, and all veterans of our United States military, are veterans every single day of the year. There is not a special day like 11 November that we are magically a veteran, we are veterans whether you fucking celebrate or not. We are not fucking tokens to be polished up and displayed for your annual appreciation, we are people, we are veterans, and we are here every single fucking day of the year. I spent the latter part of this morning reading emails, Facebook posts, Tweets, Google+ posts, and texts because I was out earlier, as I am every Wednesday, spending time with my veteran friends who go otherwise unnoticed. They have been discarded at one point or another by family and friends, nobody even wants to be in their lives any longer. I’ve been visiting every Wednesday without fail for 16 years because I want to be a part of their lives. I have met many wonderful men and women who proudly served our Nation’s military. They are a group who are homeless, or jobless, or bent, or broken, or in need, or all of the above, but they are also human beings who get treated like the scum of the Earth. My question to you is why? Unfortunately I cannot be anything more than a friend to any of them. Unfortunately all I have to offer is kindness and my time. Unfortunately my smiles, hugs, and words are never enough.

On this day, 11 November 2015, a young man I spent allot of time getting to know was not at our meeting place. Early this morning he was stabbed and killed while sleeping outside under a bridge. Why? We will never fucking know. What I do know is that people celebrate only those whom they come into contact with, free meals here and there, discounts at this place or that place, partial proceeds donated to one organization or another today only, and taking the time to thank a veteran for his/her service and commitment when we show our faces. I’m not the person who you’ll see enjoying a free meal, I’m not the person you’ll see buying a new car, I’m not the person you’ll see at the big sales today, I’m not the person you’ll see getting a free haircut today, you won’t see me today because I, like all of our veterans, are veterans every day of the year.

I don’t know how you teach your children or how you were taught, but my children are taught that veterans are human beings all year long, not just on a day of remembrance, not just on other holidays, we are here every day. I’m one of the lucky ones, I have a loving, understanding family, I have a job, I have a roof over our heads, and I try to live a normal life. I know many veterans who do not, who struggle every day to survive mentally, spiritually, and physically, they no longer know the peace I feel. We are a growing number that most don’t remember until Veterans Day, but we are always here.

In closing I would like to say that I’m a proud veteran who does not regret his service to his country. I will ask all of y’all to remember that we will still exist tomorrow, the next day, and forever. All I want is kindness and a smile for myself and all veterans, show us we mean something all the time because so many veterans don’t have friends and families in their lives. I will leave y’all with this very moving poem. As a sidenote, I do not have express permission to display this poem and can only hope that nobody minds it’s presentation on my blog, it’s one of my favorite veterans poem.


(A Soldier Died Today)

by A. Lawrence Vaincourt

He was getting  old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,

And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,

In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.

And tho’ sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,

All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.

But we’ll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,

And the world’s a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,

For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.

Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,

And the world won’t note his passing, though a soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,

While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,

But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land

A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,

Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?

A politician’s stipend and the style in which he lives

Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.

While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,

Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.

It’s so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,

That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know

It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,

Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,

Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?

Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend

His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?

He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,

But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.

For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier’s part

Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

A Tale Of Twists And Some Glitter


I was very surprised to get a phone call from a long time friend who was calling to invite me over to his house to see his new truck. Having nothing to do in my own life I decided to go check it out for shits and giggles. I pulled into his driveway and only saw the cars that are normally parked in his driveway. I guess he saw me pull up because he hurriedly came our the front door and I was told to just shut up and follow him to his shop. I was just as disappointed at the shop because I still wasn’t looking at a new truck! He had this look on his face, the look I imagine a person would have on their face if they just killed someone and needed help burying the body, which is odd because he can’t even kill a tiny spider, but he had that deranged look nevertheless. He begins to tell me this story that, when he was done I asked if I could tell to a few of my friends, is pretty strange even by my standards. Before I retell his story let me give you a little background on my friend, we’ll call him Rick, and his son who we’ll call Jr. I have known Rick, his ex-wife, and his son since I met them all in the early 90s when I lived in Japan. His son is the same age of my oldest daughter, 25. Ever since 1999 Rick has lived the life of a single father, working and raising his son were his two top priorities in life. He never dated until his son was 19 and in the Air Force out seeing the world. I had introduced him to a few single moms over the years but he seemed to like the ones that were his son’s age instead, they partied better is what he’d say. After six years his son returned home, where he still lives today so he can help his dad out the best he can. So, anyway, let’s start with his story because it gets fucking weird fast.

About six months ago Rick met a woman in her early 20s who works at a strip club I used to bartend at, life was great, the sex was great, and they were even talking wedding bells. They were the perfect couple he thought. This last weekend his son had a big date, he was going to be proposing to his girlfriend after she got off work, but he decided to go early to surprise her. Rick, bored, decided to head to the strip club and drop in on his future wife, have a few drinks, and catch the end of the game he was missing. When he walked in he noticed his son talking with Amanda (Rick’s future bride). She didn’t notice Rick as she headed up on stage behind the bright lights. Rick sat down next to his son and asked why he wasn’t out on his important date. Rick also explained that the young lady he was talking to was who he’d been dating and that he came down to surprise her. Rick laughed a bit, telling his son they have similar tastes in woman. But Jr wasn’t laughing, Jr looked horrified, and Jr was looking a little pissed off.

The short version of the conversation had was the both figured out they were dating and having sex with the same woman, with both having plans of marriage with her, and now the truth was out, kinda. Needing a drink, father and son settled at the bar where another stripper began talking to them, not about herself or the special of the day, but Amanda. She said they were both wasting there time as they both were led to look to the door, where they saw Amanda’s real husband, a huge man, 6’11, 320# easy, and one solid muscle from head to toe. Both father and son were compelled to question Amanda and when they did everything was confirmed. She invited them to tell her husband that they had been fucking her right under his nose but said it may not end well for either of them. They just left, in separate vehicles, meeting up once again at home. Neither one has said another word about Amanda in a few days, Rick thinks it will always be that way.

Luckily for Rick, I know the muscle bound mass and Amanda, who are married, and that he really didn’t want to pick a fight with someone now on parole who almost killed a man because he got a $100 lap dance from his wife but only was going to pay her a single dollar. So telling him that he and his son have been banging his wife probably wouldn’t go over very well. I wish people would talk to me before dating the strippers that work at the same club I worked at, because there are nice strippers and then there is Amanda. Anyway, Rick can’t get over the fact that he used to kiss the same mouth that would have his son’s dick in it. The least of his worries I assured him, just wonder what your son is thinking. Well, after the talk we went out back, lit a big fire, and the four of us (my wife joined us) got shitfaced in the drizzling rain to pass the night away. When it was time to go, we watched father and son hug it out, I think they’re going to be okay. They may need some therapy, but I think they will be just fine in the end.


Something Serious I Wish To Say


For the most part people do not visit The Sting Of The Scorpion blog because it is a serious place to visit. Because the tempo around here usually focuses on the humor in life and my sarcasm towards it all. That’s just where this blog is, it started there and has continued to evolve in that direction for the most part. However, there are days such as today that remind me I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I didn’t first have a past. A past, you ask? Well, yes, every single person has someone they used to be. I’m one of the lucky ones, I’m one of the people who survived his military service, and I, not unlike thousands, are no different in our outer appearance than the next person. Meaning? If you were not informed I am an Air Force veteran who was involved in Desert Storm or The Liberation of Kuwait then you could never tell by merely looking at me. Involvement? I built and serviced munitions (bombs and bullets) while on both tours, as well as my normal peacetime job. Now you know something new about me personally. One might also see the DV handicap license plates on my vehicles (disabled veteran) when I am out in public.

What does all of this matter anyway, right? I had two separate encounters today, one in the real world and one here in cyberspace, where, someone who doesn’t “know” me thanked me for my service. The first time today, I was getting out of my vehicle at Walmart and a woman and her 11 y/o son were walking by. She stopped and waited for me at the rear of my H1, she extended her hand to shake mine while she began thanking me for my service to our country. If that was not enough for me to have to hold back tears, I see below me, her young son giving me a full on military style salute. This entire encounter moved me, when she and her son moved on I had to take a minute to collect myself, and that included the wiping of some tears. She said something that haunts me a bit though. She asked if I have DV plates why I was parked so deep in the parking lot and not in the clearly open spaces at the front. Why? Why indeed. Then she mentioned that she sees people parking in handicap who clearly don’t need to be, she says this as she is looking at my scarred and abused right knee and leg. I never had the chance to tell her that I walk these distances because it is added exercise I get to help with my diabetes, which is why I walk.

My second encounter happens today also, but here in cyberspace. I’m not going mention her name or anything like that here because our conversations are private. I know she knows I am talking about her, what she doesn’t know is that for a second time in a single day I found myself wiping a tear from my eyes. Which is rough in its own because I wear contacts. I’m very gracious for the thank yous and the well wishes, but it made me think, how once again, I am one of the lucky ones in my own eyes. My point here, is simple and complicated, I have never met her I’m person, yet I really feel she understands what it means to be a veteran. We have exchanged some of our background and when she speaks of her experiences with veterans I can really relate as I think she can also relate to me. Over time I have begun to have a true fondness for her. Don’t tell her though, she might think I’m cyberstalking her or something which is not the case. I just wanted her to know I appreciate how she has touched the lives of many veterans, and she has helped me and touched my life as well. Thank you H.

I think I will close this out now before I choose not to post it altogether. Blogging truly is the cheapest form of therapy there is out there. The top picture was borrowed from the internet. The bottom picture is indeed my own personal right knee. As one can see, I have had a few surgeries involving my service related injury, the last being a knee replacement a few years ago. Which, as fate would have it, is failing, hence my current dealings with the VA, in fact, the saga will continue tomorrow as I have an appointment with a VA orthopedic specialist. Yes, that is Tigger’s head. No, you may not ask me about it. Btw, that picture was taken a few hours ago, so yea, its pretty current.


Where Is The Best Friend Line Drawn?


Greetings Scorpion Sting –

I hope you can use this story somewhere on your blog. I have been wanting to send you my story for sometime now, pretty much since I stumbled onto your blog a few long months ago. Mine is a lifetime story which I will tell in a short version because it all cumulates into one weekend which has changed my life personally forever. I will start with the two gorgeous women in the pictures I sent you. We, the three of us, have been friends since we were thrown together to play in diapers at daycare. We are all three generally the same age, all birthdays are in the same month, August, and we all just recently turned 21 at one giant birthday party out in the country by a local lake. I will use our nicknames we have always went by as I describe who we are to you. The blonde has always been known as Thing One and the brunette as Thing Two, and as you may be thinking, that leaves me as The Cat (as in The Cat In The Hat). Why? As toddlers we would get into mischievous troubles and since I was the boy in the madness I was always blamed somehow for orchestrating it all. We would continue to be this threesome throughout our school years, except our mischievous nature grew much more intense. Especially in high school where Thing One and Two decided to really blossom. They would get both wanted and unwanted attention from quite a few of the high school boys. We grew up like brothers and sisters for the most part. All of doing our own stuff but always being involved in each others stuff. It was a weird relationship I never realized was that way until we got older. All I can tell you is this, we did most everything together because we were always together. In fact, we all started working at the same place right out of high school up until just recently for me as I have quit, we’ll get to that.

Now, for the purpose of this story to you and your readers, our 21st birthday party. Thing Two’s parents have been in the process of clearing some land at a local lake so they could build their retirement home since all of their children are out and on their own. They wanted to downsize but still have the room for everyone to get together. Since there was now access to the lake they thought it was the perfect place for is to gather for the birthday party with all of our friends. Now, I have seen them in bikinis before, I have seen them naked their entire lives, hell when we were younger we bathed together, but when they came slinking out of the tent together on that fateful day my jaw absolutely dropped to the dirt. I was experiencing rushes of blood allover my body that I have never felt before with Thing One and Thing Two. As the day drew on we all drank way to much and many things got out of hand, things were said that maybe should have never been said out loud, much less even thought of. As day turned into night my lust for them grew in intensity and finally the awkwardness broke for all three of us. I was standing alone watching them dance, shake, and party for some time now, finally it took its toll. These two slinked over to me and pointed down to my shorts and asked if that was for them. Embarrassed, I tried to walk away in silence but they grabbed my arms and told me we needed to have a serious talk about what was happening. Talk? There was nothing to say. After a bit of embarrassment I was escorted by them out to have a seat by the raging campfire. While we sat there drinking, eating s’mores, and cussing like sailors I noticed they were acting differently, they were full on flirting with me in front of everyone there. It increased in intensity once they began touching me places in ways that, until that day, never considered, but was enjoying it more than I tried to let on. Before long the party would break up and everybody except us three left. We laid out a they laid out a blanket in front of the logs we had been sitting on around the fire and had a seat where I was instructed to follow suit. Sitting between them now, I was being bombarded with questions, mostly they wanted to know how many times before I watched them in the shadows with an erection. Then, out of the wild blue came the confession from them that changed our friendship forever. They explained that for years they have been attracted to me me but always felt I didn’t feel the same way so they never acted on their feelings. What? I was in total disbelief. To this day I do not believe it went down the way it did. It wasn’t possible.

Then Thing Two said she had a plan and announced to me how things were about to happen. I could not believe my ears and certainly was not believing my eyes. First they both helped me stand where one pulled my shirt off and the other pulled my shorts off. I was harder than I had ever been in my entire life, it was almost painful. They sat me down, kissing on me as I sat, and then told me to get ready. Before my eyes they began stripping each other, caressing each other, and kissing each other all over their bodies. I could not believe what I was witnessing. After what seemed a lifetime they came over to me, slid me down so I was laying on my back. I was to told to close my eyes because we we going to play a game now. Then I felt something being wrapped around my head, I was being blind folded. Then, in the came of the night, I felt the warmth and wetness of one of them sliding down my erection. After a few up and down deep glides I was asked who I thought it was, Thing One or Thing Two. I don’t know, how in the fuck am I supposed to know. Then, I was released from her clutches and I felt the tender warmth of a tongue licking away all of the juices left behind. Again, I was asked, who did I think it was. Again, I have no idea in the world. As great as this should be I am becoming very frustrated with both of them. Then it began, in silence one mounted me again, this was the other one, I could tell. Just as soon as she began motioning up and down the other decided to sit on my face and grind until I gave in and enjoyed both rides. They would switch back and forth, each time it got more violent and more aggressive. Before long I was ready, somehow they knew, the both quickly jumped off and began to suck me, I could feel both mouths, both sets of teeth, band north of the hands. Then, with out warning I exploded, it was like a volcano you see erupting on TV, I just kept going for what seemed to be an eternity. Moments later my blindfold was removed and when I got them into focus I saw that both of them had been covered in the eruption. I giggled at first and then they asked, in unison, if it was worth the wait. Well, fuck yeah. Except I didn’t know I was waiting form this day to come. After a quick dip in the lake to clean up we all returned to the fire to get dressed. The sun was coming up, and I can see now why Thing Two’s  parents chose this spot, it is beautiful.

Nothing was really said while we cleaned up so we could leave. The drive back to drop them off bat their apartment was creepy quiet. We said our goodbyes and mentioned we would see each other on Monday for work. I never showed up to work. I have not returned calls or texts. I haven’t been answering the door either. After about a month I broke down and went over to their place. I wanted to talk and I was told there wasn’t anything to say, things will be as they always have been, we will all three be and remain absolute best friends forever. What happened did because it needed to happen I was told, I can live with that.

A note from Scorpion Sting. As moderator of the content on this bog this is normally where I would add my own commentary but I have made the choice to just leave this one be. I will ask tho, where does the best friend line get drawn?

Onsen (温泉) In The Land Of The Rising Sun


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.