Onsen Onna (Hot Spring Lady)
Part I – The Meeting
Onsen bathing is one of the highlights of any trip to Japan. Add meeting an intriguing woman for a memorable experience!
There are onsen
(hot springs) everywhere in Japan, literally hundreds of places with naturally heated water that comfort millions of Japanese who go on meccas for the best onsenburo
(hot spring bath) experiences. Weekends are often fully booked at popular onsen
towns, especially near Tokyo and Osaka, the two most populated regions in the country.
I'm a 40-something white guy from the Southwest USA, assigned to Tokyo as a human resources specialist and employee counselor. I was fortunate to find a job in personnel, thanks to my M.A. in human resource management and M.S. in psychology.
I needed a break from the typical grueling work schedule, six days a week with many evenings out for socializing with co-workers and the bosses. I thought it would be fun to go to a rural onsen in a small town, mostly to get away from the busy metropolitan areas. Nikko, a couple of hours from Tokyo, seemed like a good prospect with lots of ryokan
(traditional inns) with their own onsenburo
--especially on a weekday when fewer people are traveling. I did my research online and found a small ryokan
with only a few rooms and their own onsen
baths, not too far from the train station.
From Tokyo, I took a JR bullet train to Utsunomiya going north, then transferred to the local Nikko Line. On the way to Nikko, I happened to notice a beautiful Japanese woman sitting across the aisle. I'd say she was in early 30s, about 5'8", slender with long silky hair down to her waist.
What really caught my attention was that she was nicely dressed in a simple white skirt and blouse, coffee-toned hose, and 2" heels--like she was going to work in a big company in Tokyo. Really elegant! Every so often, I glanced over to my left to check out this beautiful woman. Her face was gorgeous, like one of the many beautiful models in ads for Shiseido or Sony.
We finally arrived at Nikko Station. Exiting the front entrance, I glanced around for the taxi waiting area. A line of taxis waited for people going to area hotels and lodging.The woman and I approached the taxi in the front simultaneously. I bowed to her and said "Dozo, osaki ni
" (please, you first).
She replied in an enchanting soft voice, "Domo, sumimasen
" (Thank you). She instructed the driver that she was going to Harunoya. The driver opened the automatic door to let her in.
I said to her, "I'm going to the same ryokan
. May we go together?"
She replied, "Yes, of course. That would be fine."
I followed her into the back seat while the driver placed our small suitcases in the trunk. As she scooted over to the right side (riders enter from the left side), her skirt rode up her shapely legs and revealed a little more of her coffee-colored hose to almost mid-thigh.
Ooh, I thought, she has excellent taste for hosiery--not the usual matte-finish cheap cream-colored pantyhose that the typical woman in Japan wears--but a super sheer pantyhose that must have been 10-15 denier (I'm a stocking lover as you will see). It was a rare sight anywhere, especially with the unfortunate decline in women's hosiery nowadays.
She settled into her seat and pulled her hem down after realizing that a lot of her legs was showing. I tried to avoid admiring her legs, but it was difficult!
The driver got underway after checking on the ryokan
's location (no numbered street addresses in Japan, so you really need to know the city!). The late afternoon light came in from the right side, shining through her sheer white blouse with warm backlight. I looked down and noticed the backlighting also revealed the texture of her skirt material. It looked like a very light, finely woven linen.
Then I noticed the telltale bumps of garter clips and outline of garter straps! I could almost make out the line of the stocking tops--not the lacy type, but the original banded top. As the late afternoon sun swung over a little, I saw what looked like the glint of shiny metal garter clips--not the cheap, unreliable plastic clips.
The light also revealed a little more detail showing through the thin skirt--a thin light line across her leg, a hint that she may be wearing the old Hanes stockings with the light-colored edge on the stocking top. She wasn't wearing a slip! I thought, "This is turning out better than expected!"
We finally arrived at the Harunoya ryokan
up in the hills, about 20 minutes from the train station. We split the cab fare and exited the taxi on the left side.
As I helped her out, her skirt again rode up her long legs. This time, a little more of her gorgeous nylon-clad legs was revealed. I noticed the edge of the dark stocking tops peeking out. I could also see the light-colored garter strap and shiny garter clip showing through her linen skirt.
As we picked up our suitcases and walked toward the main entrance of the ryokan
, I saw the signboard listing the guests for the evening. I saw my name, then the only other guest that night: Naito Erika. Nice name!
We entered the genkan
(entry) where we were immediately greeted by the okami
(owner) who welcomed us to her ryokan
. As is customary, we took off our street shoes before entering the ryokan
. I untied my shoelaces and walked up a little step to put on slippers.
Erika slipped out of her heels and walked up the short step. She was wearing RHT stockings with reinforced heels and toes. I haven't seen RHT nylons for eons! She slipped on her ryokan
slippers and followed the okami
to her room. Another ryokan
assistant took me to my room, across the hall from Erika's.
Going down the hallway lit from the back by an open window, I could easily see the outlines of Erika's legs through her thin linen dress. It was easy to imagine her without her skirt and just admiring her stocking-clad legs. Mmmmm.
She entered the room and smiled at me, saying in surprisingly excellent English, "Good to meet you. See you at dinner." The okami
had reminded us that we should take a bath in the ryokan
(public bath) or the kashikiriburo
(private bath)--and even an uchifuro
(private family bath). They were all open 24 hours without reservations. Great!!
After unpacking and resting for a moment, I threw off my street clothes and donned the yukata
(bathing clothes) provided by the ryokan
. It fit perfectly. How did they know my size, "L?"
As I exited my room named "Fuji no Hana" (Wisteria), Erika came out of her room, named "Sakura no Hana" (cherry blossom). Nicer ryokan
often have rooms with special names.
She was also wearing a white yukata
with a sakura
flower design. The yukata
was made with rather thin cotton, perfect for the hot, humid summers in Japan. It was so thin, in fact, that as I followed behind her, I thought I saw the outline of a white garter belt, white panties, and dark stockings.
As my eyes followed her slim legs downward, I noticed the back of her heel in the ryokan slippers--RHT heels! She hadn't bothered to take off her stockings! She was going to wear them into the women's bathroom!
We both approached the daiyakujo
(public bath) for men and women. The main entry had the Japanese character for "yu
" (or hot water), the universal symbol throughout Japan for a hot bath, both hot springs and regular public baths with heated water. It's an essential Japanese character to know if you like hot baths.
She entered the women's side signified by a red noren
(a curtain in the entryway). I called after her, "Have a nice one!"
She smiled back and said, "You too!" As her door closed behind her, I saw her slipping off her slippers, exposing her RHT nylon-covered feet.
Across the top of the wall dividing between the two sides, I could hear walking around the dressing room, placing her clothes in the bamboo clothes basket, and entering the bath area. I did the same and entered the bath area also.
Of course, it is mandatory in Japan that everyone takes a complete bath before entering the furo
itself. This is so that the furo
water remains clean and absolutely free of body oils, soap and other contaminants. It is said that bath managers will drain everything if he/she catches a bather entering a furo
Across the open divider between the men's and women's bathing areas, I could hear Erika showering and bathing for almost 10 minutes. I also enjoyed the scalding hot water, the nicely scented shampoo and conditioner, and body soap. My room had a local specialty, horse-oil soaps which have a creamy texture that leaves the hair and body silky smooth.
After cleansing myself head to toe, and rinsing off completely, I headed toward the rotenburo
(outside bath). I opened the door leading to the outside and felt the slightly cooler air of Nikko which is in the mountains at a higher elevation than Tokyo. I stepped into the rotenburo
and immediately felt the city's stress flowing out of my body. Ahhhh! All I needed was a glass of cold sake!
For the next half hour, I rotated between the rotenburo
and the regular furo
inside, taking chilling cold showers in between to cool off my body to avoid a stroke or heart attack. The time passed quickly and my body felt totally refreshed.
I went back to the dressing room, finished drying off, and put my yukata
back on. As I exited the men's side, I didn't see Erika. No problem... I'll see her at dinner in another 10-20 minutes.
Dinner was set for 7 pm in the small dining room near the main lobby. Knowing how ryokan
pamper their guests, I anticipated another grand feast, Japanese style (not quantity, but quality--with variety, beautiful presentation, and service).
I got ready a couple of minutes before heading out again. I was looking forward to meeting Erika and learning more about her. She was fascinating! I sprayed on a little shot of cologne, but not too much because Japanese people don't like strong fragrances. I chose a citrus base which is very refreshing in the summer.
As I came out of my room, Erika also came out, wearing her yukata
. She looked stunning with her flowing silky, black hair and photogenic face. Did I mention that I'm also a semi-professional photographer specializing in portraits? This time, I could see the front of her thin yukata
and trace the outline of her front garter straps and dark stocking tops. Oh my! This is going to be a long dinner!
We entered the dining area and were ushered to our individual tables where we would sit on the floor. Erika had removed her ryokan
slippers upon entering and was walking in her stocking feet. I admired her feet showing the dark reinforced heels and toes as she shuffled her way to her seat. Nylon stockings on tatami
mats make a nice "swooshy" sound!
She sat down Japanese style with her legs under her--very uncomfortable for Westerners like me, but nothing for most Japanese. I sat down with Erika sitting at the next table in front of me. Her RHT-nylon clad feet were pointed in my direction--in plain view for the entire dinner.
I endured the fine dinner which lasted almost an hour with course after course of seasonal specialties and local foods. It was as good as many dinners I've enjoyed in Kyoto, the dining capital of Japan.
All evening, we had not spoken with each other as we individually enjoyed the wonderful dinner. After sipping on green tea to complete the fine meal, we both got up to leave the dining room. As she walked toward me, I ventured a quick introduction before the moment was lost.
"Excuse me," I said as I bowed. "I wonder if you would't mind, but I would like to introduce myself. My name is Eric and I am from America. Pleased to meet you."
She bowed back and replied, "Oh, excuse me. My name is just like yours! I am Erika and I'm from Tokyo."
Pleased to meet you also." I said, "I forgot to thank you earlier for sharing the cab ride to this ryokan."
Erika replied, "Oh, my pleasure. It was good to share the ride. I'm sorry I didn't introduce myself earlier. I'm sorry I had some things on my mind."
"Oh, I'm sorry," I said. "I didn't mean to bother you." Before I missed this chance, I blurted out, "If you have a moment, would you like to sit down in the lounge area? There's not much to do around the ryokan at this hour, so I wouldn't mind talking with another guest for a little while."
Surprisingly, Erika responded with, "You know, that's a good idea. Talking with someone would be nice."
I gathered that she was eager to connect with someone. We walked together toward the front lobby area where there was a lounge off to the side. The okami
and staff were busy cleaning up in the dining area and the front desk was already closed, so we had the lobby to ourselves.
We found a quiet corner and sat down in the comfy faux-leather lounge chairs--a little deep for shorter Japanese people, but OK for us Americans. A low coffee table separated us. Erika sank deep into her chair, but tried to sit more upright. I liked that because we could sit a little closer together.
Trying to break the ice, I asked, "How are you enjoying your stay at this ryokan
Erika replied, "It's nice to get away from Tokyo."
I said, "Yes, same for me. Work is so busy that I needed to take a break."
Erika replied, "I also needed a break, but for different reasons."
I thought, "Should I ask why?" I felt a little adventurous, so I asked, "May I ask why?"
She said, "I've been having difficulties with my boy friend and I needed to get away for a few days."
I said, "I can understand that. Sometimes it is nice to take a short break to think about things."
Erika blurted out, "I don't know why Masato thinks I'm so strange! I'm just trying my best to be the perfect girlfriend, but he thinks my obsession is weird. He doesn't appreciate me!"
"Wow, I thought. What am I getting into?" I decided to say nothing for a while, realizing that silence is sometimes more important in communications in Japanese culture--compared to American culture in which we feel a compulsion to fill in moments of silence. I just nodded quietly.
Erika began to cry and I wasn't sure what I should do next. Should I try to comfort her, or wait? I then realized that Erika might be more Western than many Japanese women. Usually, Japanese women are much more reserved with strangers, especially gaijin
(foreigners) and would never, never reveal personal feelings so easily. I took a chance.
"Erika, is there anything I can do to help? I'm sorry to see that you are upset."
Erika said, "I'm also sorry to bother you with my personal problems. I don't even know you!" I replied as I leaned toward her, "It's OK. If I can help, I would be happy to."
Erika leaned forward and broke down. "I don't know what to do. I have special desires that Masato doesn't appreciate. Am I that strange? Am I abnormal? Am I crazy?"
I quickly reacted by going over to her side and holding her and quietly telling her, "It's OK. You can talk to me about anything. I'll help if I can." Wow, perhaps my counseling background will be useful!
Erika leaned into me and said, "Oh, thank you so much. I have wanted to talk with someone about my compulsive behavior, but it has been so difficult. Masato thinks I'm crazy with obsessive-compulsive disorder and does not want to satisfy my feelings. OCD? Perhaps, but I'm not hurting anyone, am I?"
I guardedly asked, "May I ask what kind of obsession you are talking about?"
Erika quickly replied, "Well, perhaps you may have already noticed."
"What do you mean?"
She said, "I've noticed that you have been interested in my legs, especially that I'm wearing nylons everywhere. Am I right?"
"Busted!" I thought. Well, I can't deny it. "OK, you're right. I did notice that you were wearing nice nylons and seemed to enjoy wearing them all the time, even into the bathing room."
Erika replied, "So you did notice. Most people don't, you know. I just love the feeling of traditional nylon stockings that I wear them all the time--in bed, outdoors, traveling, even while bathing. I just love the smooth feeling and making myself feel extra attractive."
I said, "Really, you are beautiful and don't need to make yourself that much more attractive, if I may say so."
Erika said, "That may be so, but the special feeling of wearing nylons has become necessary for me. You could say that I'm addicted. At first, I thought Masato liked my wearing nylons, but after a year, he thought I was wearing nylons too much--if you can believe that! He even preferred plain cotton socks! I thought most men love women wearing nice nylons!"
I replied, "I don't know about other men, but I can tell you that I can't get enough of seeing beautiful women wearing nice nylons all the time--even into bed or getting soaked."
Erika brightened up. "Really? You're the first man who appreciates nylon stockings that much."
I couldn't believe my ears! I needed to get to know Erika more! Erika got up from across the low coffee table and came over to my side, sitting close next to me—as if she was preparing to confide in me without talking too loudly. I could feel her body heat next to me....
(to be continued)
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