Petals Falling on Still Water

It is, of course, forbidden to take a camera into an onsen. But had I been allowed, these are the images I would have snapped:

The ghostly steam rising up off of the hot, jagged rocks

The lacy white cherry blossom petals dotting the slender boughs, blocking out the brilliant blue sky

The wet stamp of footprints on the rock-lined paths to and from the different stone-cradled pools

The red petals dropping into the still water

The chubby angel babies laughing and splashing at their young, smiling mothers

The gentle smile of the swanlike, Takeshita Keiko-esque middle-aged woman who struck up a conversation with me as we lounged in the bamboo pool overlooking a river valley studded with gracefully curving trees that had just begin to bloom pink, white, red and yellow

6:30 neared and the sky was streaked with purples and pinks. All of the other women silently left the outdoor bathing area and headed inside to the showers. As the sun went down on my 29th birthday, I waited to be sure that no one inside was watching and when I was sure they weren’t, carefully raised myself up in the rock pool and – for the first time ever – stood completely naked in the brisk breeze

surrounded by plum and cherry trees

partially masked by whispers of steam

rapt, naked

and reveling in my sweat.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Harvee says:

    So…why are you leaving Japan?

  2. pepper says:


  3. seminascosto says:

    It is possible to answer both comments with one phrase: “I know, right???”

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