The Japanese work hard...but they surely know how to relax when they have time off. Okura owned several large spa type homes...complete with huge sculpted, tiled pools for bathing.
Tom was in the Metal Section of the Import Division, he worked hard along with about 25 others in the group. One night, he comes home and tells me that we are invited to have a holiday at Okura's resort, that his whole section was invited.
Not having met too many of his fellow workers I looked forward to the experience with great enthusiasm. This was in February and as we were not married yet, I would have to stay with the girls and Tom with the boys for sleeping. Even at our house Oka-san stayed with us to keep things "proper".
Well, the weather cooperated it was glorious, the countryside just glowed with a hint of spring. All of the guys wanted to try fishing..they had small little manmade pools stocked with fish. Tom wanted me to try it...oh, well...I wound up throwing my bamboo pole (kinda like a whip - would of done Cat Woman proud!) and catching Maru-chan right in the shoulder of his thankfully thick coat. It was decided that fishing was not my forte.
Well, we go into dinner and guess what's for dinner? Marinated Wild Boar...Oh..my..God..I'm going to starve...the other choice was still squirming marinated eel. They kept on telling me "tastes just like chicken". Well, the rice was good.
The guys decided after dinner to play the most favorite game in Japan .. MaJong - but believe me this is not your Mama's MaJong. They play hot and heavy, almost to the death! Little did I know that this was one of Tom's passions.
Not to be outdone, all the girls decided it would be fun to go use the bathouse pool while the guys were busy. In my youthful ignorance I tagged along figuring I loved pools...I had a bathingsuit with me.
Well, as the girls assembled outside of the bathhouse I noticed no one carrying a bathingsuit, only towels. I asked one of the girls that spoke English, her name was Kimmiko, what were we doing? She told me that you take off all your clothes, hang up your clothes, towel and take this little square of a washcloth with you. You proceed into the tiled area, grab a bucket of water, wash and rinse yourself off before entering the large pool of water.
This poor blonde didn't know where to run. I mean I was raised to view nudity as a necessary evil not something that you put on display for everyone's view. At the same time, I didn't want to disappoint my husband to be by not trying his customs.
So, being relieved that this was going to be all females, I disrobed and entered the tiled area by the pool. I followed Kimiko's lead and did as she did. We washed, rinsed and finally immersed ourselves into the most relaxing, soothing water I have ever had the experience to be in. There must of been about 12 of us mermaids in the pool when we heard a tremendous ruckus coming from the front of the disrobing area.
It seems some of the younger men upon learning that the "girls" were going bathing decided to give up the MaJohn game in pursuit of other game! Well, the person in charge of the pool area was trying to stop the guys from entering...some of the braver girls leapt out of the pool and ran towards the sliding doors. One of them had a broom stick and stuck it in the bottom slider...THAT worked!
Here I was didn't know which way to turn..all I had was this tiny bit of a wash cloth - not enough to cover or hide behind. Kimmiko was hysterical with laughter at my distress - she didn't mean to be mean they just don't view nudity the way we do.
Anyway, when the guys finally stopped rattling the shoji screens, I ran for my clothes and dressed quickly. As it turns out, they had bathed together before and the poor men didn't realize that it was out of respect to me the girls had decided not to let them in!
I ran, red faced, to find Tom totally immersed in his MaJong game - didn't have a clue as to why I was so embrassed. He laughed himself silly after finding out what had happened and actually looking back..I just have to laugh too.