My first impression of Kinosaki Onsen was that it was full of identically dressed people wandering about with wooden platform shoes, shoes that are more akin to musical instruments than footwear as evidenced by the horrific racket and near immobility of those wearing them. This immobility is fairly frustrating to one attempting to actually move about the city, that is until deciding to simply walk around them like the human wall they are.

As soon as I left the terminal I was at the first of many onsen, which should in my view translate to ‘the best thing ever’ in English however is in fact simply the name for Japans bathhouses. These particular onsen are heated by natural hotsprings and full of what I am told are ‘good minerals’ a claim I found dubious but who am I to argue the quality of varieties of sediment. So I purchased a pass to all of the towns onsen for 1000 yen, between 10 and 15 dollars, and instead of realizing this meant I could take my time and enjoy things I took it as a challenge.

After about my third hour long soak in 30+ degree water the world began to take on some interesting characteristics, namely that my heartbeat began to drown out the incessant racket of the clattering ‘shoes’ and the street began to take on a rather wiggly appearance. I decided at this point that food would be a good idea before continuing my herculean task of visiting over a half dozen bathhouses in a single day.

Having ordered and begun consuming this incredibly tasty curry I was informed that Kinosaki makes its own variety of beers, needless to say much like the variety of onsen I took on this challenge with gusto.

I stepped from the restaurant to find the city had redoubled its efforts to prevent my walking in a straight line, undeterred I soldiered on toward the next onsen which proved to be a difficult task as unbeknownst to me the map I had obtained earlier was now in cahoots with the street and was a jumbled mess of irregular lines and gibberish. It was then that I discovered my favorite onsen so far, this one having both a steam room that smelled like a commercial for halls with menthol, as well as something called a penguin room. The penguin room it turns out is a frosty zero degrees, which while unpleasant under normal circumstances is potentially lethal to a beer battered and onsen softened fellow such as myself, needless to say I beat a hasty retreat to the menthol fumed pool of boiling water and began what can best be described as a slow cardiac arrest.

Staggering out the door I was suddenly aware of a pressing need to sit, or perhaps chain myself to the ground as at that moment I was not entirely certain which direction gravity was flowing although I strongly suspected whatever direction it was going was not the one I was used to.

Somewhat alarmed I was reassured by some helpful fish that I in fact would be fine, this should have been my first clue that they in fact were mistaken.

A few minutes of not moving and I was good to go however I was forced to choose between my quest to soak myself in water or alcohol, it was a surprisingly easy choice as the building across the street was sporting a fine selection of either sake or paint thinner.

I decided that Kobe beef marinated in a local beer then curried to high hell was the wisest choice for food, while delicious this proved to be a mistake.

I found it a touch disturbing that a place famous for bathhouses was also famous for crabs, but they are happy crabs so I suppose it’s alright….

The turtle was more honest and informed me that in all likelihood I was doomed

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