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This past weekend was our JET Christmas Enkai (party) up on Mt. Haruna at an onsen. We left Friday night from Takasaki station at 7pm and drove up to the onsen hotel on Mt. Haruna. There was a slight amount of snow/ice on the ground, so you can bet it was cold! The lake freezes over by January/February apparently. We got there and checked into our room, which consisted of Shauna, Dave, Kenji and I:


Shauna’s exited!

Nicely laid out futons… mmmm, they look comfy!

Kenji’s natural state, sprawled across anything possible!

The bathing kit-thingy we got, though I don’t know what happened to my towel…

The yukata to wear after the baths. It was really comfortable, and the jacket thing added warmth. I want to get one of these o_O;

After settling in and unpacking a bit, we headed down to dinner with the 30 or so other JETs who came. Dinner was really great, everyone was able to relax and enjoy the setting, and after dinner they rolled out the karaoke machine which cause hilarity all around as everyone tried to sing. We also exchanged secret santa gifts… I got a pair of men’s boxers that were goofy which I gave (or rather, forced on) Kenji.

Where should we sit?

Dinner, yummy!

Kenji… what’s with that look?!

Only Byron gets the memo that a picture is being taken!

It was at that point my batteries ran out on my camera, so I’ll have to wait until I get Kenji’s pictures to post more. Since its a bit boring without pictures, I’ll just be brief. After dinner, everyone changed into yukata and trooped down to the onsen. I was one of the first ready, so I went in with Alison to see how you do things. We were the only two there, too, so that was nice.

Onsen’s are really cool, once you get over the idea of being nude with other people. And really, it didn’t take much getting over. You just sort of ignored it. With onsens, first you wash off with soap and shampoo, and rinse off well. Then you just… get in. They had both an indoor and out; I chose the outdoor. It was really cold outside, but the water makes you almost too warm, so the contrast works out well.

The women’s onsen also doesn’t have much of a view to prevent people looking in; usually the men’s view is much better, which isn’t very fair! Anyway, after a few minutes a ton of other JETs came in, so we spent 30 minutes to an hour just talking and chilling, until it was just too hot/cold to stay out there. At that point I went back to my room and didn’t stay up for much longer… onsen’s and alcohol make me sleepy!

Got up for the bus the next morning a little before it left, so I didn’t get many pictures of Haruna in winter. Maybe when it snows up there we can visit.

Finally, a fun random thing, we went to visit the shrine that Kenji’s last name in Japanese is derived from, and ended up seeing this cat sitting on the wall, so naturally wanted pictures…

Me: “Aww, cute, a kitty! Kenji, don’t scare it away!”
Kitty: “Mrow?”

Kenji: “What do you mean, scare it away? Go away, I want to take pictures of you, not pet you!”

Me: “Fine then, I’LL hold it!”

Such a sweet and soft kitty! Awwww!

Oh, yeah, and the shrine thingy. Whatever. ~_^

Okay, that’s been it! Nothing much else happening, though this coming weekend we’ll probably go to Tokyo, and the next weekend after that is HOPEFULLY our first snowboarding trip!