Today....it took a little bit longer and a lot more java to get this butt out of the futon and ready to "seize the day". Last night, a good friend of mine had a "45 and still alive" party to celebrate the passing of another year. There were about 10 women (no men!!), most of us deeply entrenched in our 40's....good food...vrrrry zexy owner/cook of the place we were (and yes, he did get some major negative points because he smoked...but...we still looked! It's really a good thing he didn't speak English...he might have felt terribly used and abused!!)...and of course, quite a bit of beverages were consumed. After the restaurant, 5 of us....from 5 different countries, mind you...headed over to the karaoke place and proceeded to sing our ever-lovin' hearts out for the next 2 hours!! (Oh...and drink Coronas!!). Let's just say that the singing started out with The Love Shack (Baby!)....after a bit..... Day-O...Sweet Home Alabama (as the only American, I felt it was my duty to sing that!!)...and then the evening ended with a wonderful rendition of I Am Woman, sung by everyone! Oh...and did I mention that most of the time we were standing/dancing on the sofas?!?! But...the highlight was when we (thanks to the idea of the Birthday Girl) ad-libbed a song....she picked a Korean song and we each had to sing, using the background video as a guide. Let me tell you that...damn...we were good!! And fuuuunnnnnyyy!! It was a great evening full of "friskiness and whimsy"....but....I'm not as young as I used to be so.....I needed quite a bit of Advil along with my coffee this morning to get going!!!
Anyway....while I was watching a whole bunch of hula-bula-mommas.....
my boys were at the river...frolicking...and two of them got naked!!
While we were there, we went to one of our favorite places for some cold noodles. In the summer somen noodles are a special treat...they are eaten cold and are just yummy. Sure, I could just cook some up, throw them in a big bowl of ice water and we could eat them that way...but....no...not today. We took a drive.....for somen nagashi, which translates to "floating noodles"....the boys say "swimming pool noodles"!!!
Here is where we went... Each table has fresh spring water that fills the "pool" and flows around and around....
We ordered the noodles that are eaten with a broth that you add chopped green onions and grated ginger. We also ordered karage...which is a spicy fried chicken that tastes like nothing you have ever eaten before. Sooo delicious. (No...that does NOT go in the water!!)
So...you turn on the water...dump in some noodles....oh, did I mention that the water is almost ice cold? Using your chopsticks, you catch noodles as they go floating by. Very nice, fun treat on a hot and humid day!!
After eating, we drove over to Unzen, the town that is at the base of Mt. Unzen (the volcano that erupted about 17 years ago!)....there is a National Park (Japan's first!!) that is called Jigoku....or "hell". The natural hot springs are amazing there....when we first got there, we put our feet in the foot bath.......and then took a walk through "hell". Even though the temperature was not so hot here, the heat and steam rising up made it seem as if we were walking through a steam-bath. Oh...and the smell!!! Gotta love the lovely aroma of sulphur!!
As you walk along the area, you can see lots of bubbling places...and lots of these....
...Each one of those pipes leads to a different hotel or onsen (hot spring). All the establishments get their hot onsen water from this area.
"Up from the ground came some bubbling.... hot freakin' water!!!
This was Koji's first time here....it was great!! After we walked around for an hour or so....we decided to go to an onsen....we found a really old place..very quaint up the mountain a bit. After having gone to so many fancy-schmancy types of hot springs....this one was a wonderful, simple break. The place looked, to me, like two wooden grain silos standing next to each other...one side for men, the other for women. Each side had only two baths, one that was "oh my God" hot...the other not so much, but with streams of water coming from way up high to sit under....a natural massage! I was talking to one of the ladies and she told me that most of the people in the bath were neighbors. They all got special passbooks where they could take a bath pretty cheap...she said that she would go there 4 or 5 times a week.
I was thinking that sounded like a good idea...but, now....as I sit here at my computer with a still very strong sulphur smell on my skin....no. As a special treat, okay...4 or 5 times a week of smelling like I just got a perm all over my body?? No, thank you. But....if it meant that I could spend another day with all my boys like the one today....then I might reconsider!!