My three Japanese friends, Motoyo, Mayummi and Chizuru took me to Mayummi's vacation home in the mountains to initiate me into the custom of Onsen, hot spring bathing. As you know, Japanese people sit on a little wooden stool with a little wooden bowl and scrub themselves raw for about 30 minutes before getting into a tub. They do this daily at home and then take it on the road for vacations. In an onsen it's a party with your close (same sex) friends.
I am flattered that my friends try to deny to themselves that I am a barbaric American. In a Japanese round about fashion, I am just learning ,they asked; "Is it true that Americans wear shoes in their homes?" "Yes". "Do you?" Motoyo asked.
Yesterday they asked "Is it true that American's take daily showers and not baths?". "I know only one American who takes a daily bath, Maureen-san", I answered. "Ka-chan, do YOU take just showers?".If I could remember the last time I had taken a bath I would have lied but I had to say yes. "Don't you ever take showers?" I asked. Two can play this game. "Maybe once a year if it's really cold", Motoyo said.
Then Chizuru told me that last year their former English teacher from the base, Joy, was having a baby. Her husband, Jesse, called the women to invite them to a baby shower. All Chizuru could understand of the conversation was "baby" and "shower". When she got off the phone with Jesse and put two and two together she realized he meant that Joy's water had broken . Chizuru, knew it was too early in the pregnancy for Joy to have the baby and she must be having a miscarriage. Chizuru called Mayummi and Motoyo who helped her analyze the situation and realized she was right. They called Jesse back in a panic to find out what hospital Joy was in and how could they help. "No, no, no" said Jesse "a shower is a party".
The girls knew that Americans shower the way Japanese bathe so now they understand they going to a party for Joy IN a shower. They feel odd about this but happy to be included in an American custom for their friend. When they get to the party they can't imagine how all those people are going to fit in the shower. THEN they are told they have to crouch down (in the shower they guess) and then spring up and yell "SURPRISE!!!!!!!!! ".They are sure someone is going to get hurt by crouching down in a crowded shower and then jumping up. And anyway, why would you want to scare someone who is the guest of honor at a party?
While at the Onsen we had the strongest earthquake I've ever felt. Tanoshii, tanoshii, tanoshii (Fun, fun, fun).