Existing Member?

The Awesome Adventures of Hannah and Emma

Last Memories of Japan... OR How to Be Naked With Old Ladies... OR How to Spot a Cross-Dresser 101

JAPAN | Thursday, 1 October 2009 | Views [1940] | Comments [7]

OK. So last time we left off, we had climbed down a mountain and encountered the wrath of Buddha. If you thought that Japan was done with us, you were wrong. 
As everyone keeps telling me, onsens are part of the Japanese experience. You can't go to Japan without going to an onsen. A piece of tradition, they say. A way to appreciate culture. Or as I found out- how to see a lot of naked old ladies. I would also like to take the time to point out that the view of Japanese people being conservative is false. This country drinks at any time of the day, eats whatever they want, and gets naked regularly as I can attest to. For those of you who are unaware...onsens are Japanese public baths. To a westerner, this is weird. Everyone going to bathe together naked?? Whats the deal with that? The proceeding thought might be, "Who would ever do that?"....So clearly Emma and I went. Yes, together (and for those of you who understand the reference- No homo).
To be clear, there have been some really awkward moments before this where we thought we might have to shower together in public showers at hostels. This was avoided by using bathing suits. You arent allowed bikinis at an onsen. The old ladies yell at you. Apparently. We only have an Austrailian's opinion to go on..so you never know but we weren't willing to take the chance so yeah, we got naked at the onsen. The onsen itself had a ton of different kinds of baths including one with electricity flowing through the water. Completely safe though. Just a little shocking to see. Ha, shocking. 
Apart from the avoidance of eye contact and conversation at the onsen, given our immature giggling fits, it was a great time. Women and men are separate before you get any ideas. So you know, next time you want to take your friendship to the next level with your bestie - hit up the public bath. A word of warning- if you have a visible tattoo, then the average Japanese citizen may think you are part of a gang or the Yakuza. No big deal. It accounts for the staring and confused looks I suppose, but then again we got that in Canada when we are fully clothed so its just a normal day for us.
An update from yesterday: As we have seen most of the sights around Kobe, we decided to hit up Tokyo for the last time. Our initial plans were to have a Peter Parkinson Day, however these plans were thwarted and the search for the elusive Ted Watson will have to be continued in another trip Tokyo. Instead, we found a sumo wrestler to take a photo with- which was one of our major goals. Not the happiest chap, and we were a little scared to get too close in the photo but an accomplishment nonetheless.
From this place of honour, culture and tradition, we found ourselves at a maid cafe. Yes. A cafe with girls dressed as maids. But  I am getting ahead of myself. Basically, we wanted to find the girls in Tokyo who dress really crazy and weird. The typical touristy thing. Emma's cousin located the area and the search began. We were beckoned into a cafe by a girl wearing a maid outfit and we thought, why not? Its just a cafe. Lets grab and drink, take a photo and leave.
The elevator opened at this cafe and we were welcomed with screams and singing from two girls wearing matching maid outfits, singing about being back in the dream world or dream land, or something. The name of the establishment: Maidreamin. I kid you not. It was like being in a six year old grl's room, only seedier and with accompanying bar and stage adorned in bright pink hearts. I guess the whole point is to make it feel like a dream ...but it was our nightmare. It was a hostess bar where guys pay for "maids" to play cards with them or make them drinks and call them Master. It was weird. But got weirder when our drinks arrived and we were informed that we must sing a song while holding our hands in the shape of a heart. My stomach ached from laughing. As the bar slash cafe slash borderline prostitution joint slash dream land filled up with people...or should I say men. With the exception of the French couple, who left in two minutes. Fun fact: if the French think somewhere is weird, then you should immediately find an escape route because things are probably going to get weirder. Which they did.
Enter the creepiest man in the world. He had it all. The leer, the lecherous look and the accompanying man purse. He was a regular. He knew all of the maids. Yes, we judge. Emma's cousin pointed at him and said promptly, "Weird guy", which turns out to be right on the money. As time wore on, things were getting more uncomfortable for us as a maid fleeced us for money to spend on playing games with them. We drank our sugary hot chocolate from our heart shaped cups. We felt dirty. I wanted to hug my mum. It was time to leave this place of "dreams" and female servitude. As we make the motions to leave, our favourite creepy patron has returned from a lengthy absence, fully dressed in the maid costume. Bow in his hair and began to serve customers.
We left in about 2 minutes. Explodng with laughter as the elevator doors closed and running out into the rainy streets of Tokyo filled with business men and Starbucks. Its weird to think that only a few floors above us and the financial salesmen of Japan was a pink fantasy dream world.
Oh, and we did get a photo with a maid. It cost us a bit more than five dollars and came from a camera that automatically prints photos. Think Joy Cam from 1999 style.Our endeavor cost us around fifty dollars. It was probably the best money I have ever spent.
Its been a great ride, Japan. Thanks for all the memories.
Goodbye Ben! (an addendum by Emma):
Byeee old friend! I will miss your smiling face and pink onesie! See you in the UK! <3

Tags: japan, maid cafe, onsen, tokyo



For those of you who are confused: Ben is Emma's Cabbage Patch doll. He has been her life long companion. However, his head is really heavy and he doesn't exactly fit in her backpack. Well basically his eyes poke out the top and its a little creepy. It may encourage some questions from border guards. And more importantly, he may be used as a drug mule or taken hostage in Thailand. Or by Lao bandits. So the time to say fareweel is upon us.

See you soon, little buddy.


  hannahandemma Oct 1, 2009 9:07 PM


OMG -- Ben is homeless or left to take up a life as a cabbage patch maid in a hostess bar...?
Say it ain't so...
Mail him back home -- he is our culture icon.
(BTW -- Ben is a black cabbage patch doll named for his/her eery resemblance to Ben Johnson)

  Mum Oct 2, 2009 2:31 AM


I can hear Michael Jackson singing, Ben - It's just the two us. etc.. Mike was singing about a giant rat in a bad horror movie while actually thinking about a 10 year old he shared some chardonnay.
I feel honoured. that you would try a Peter Parkinson Day.
In some countries a recognized holiday.
Your Maidream is a far finer experience. Then going to Shakey's in Akasaka. If it were still open all you would see is some old dudes who made Cheer's Norm and Cliff Claven look like amateurs. If I had known I could have suggested you go to Yoyogi Uehara. Where your mum and I lived with your grand parents. And then to Miki (akachochin) in front of the train station where a lot of idle time was spent. But nothing ever like Maiddream. You have won the ultimate Japanese experience contest. The only thing that comes close is one night Brian H and I saw a place called Mexican Arrow in Roppongi. We thought tacos, burritos, tortilla chips. We quickly realized it was a high end hostess bar. We were just looking at the menu and were asked to leave because, as we were told "you can afford it" Yiikes

  Peter Parkinson Oct 2, 2009 2:50 AM


just when i thought you couldn't possibly one up the yakuzi you find a way.
hats off to the duo of hannah and emma.
possible reality show in the making?
i'll get back to you with possible titles...
keep up the good work of exposing the truths of asian culture.

  Bobby Oct 2, 2009 4:16 PM


Wow the japanese nude bathing experience surprised me.Who'd have believed that in japan ?.
Guess you're ready to tackle Greece next to get that complete suntan.Take it from me there's nothing like a swim in turquoise water in your birthday suit once you get over the initial embarrassment.Who knows, now that I'm past the bikini wearing age - not a recent event-
i might have to go and retire in Greece ;-)
love sheila

  sheila Oct 2, 2009 9:10 PM


Hey hannahandemma,

We liked your story and decided to feature it this week so that others can enjoy it too.

Happy travels!

World Nomads

  World Nomads Oct 12, 2009 10:32 AM


Wow....you got featured in a story! I am sooooo proud of you. hehe. That certainly was an awesomely riviting story. :) I am finally getting to catch up on your travels...it's wonderful hearing about all that you have done. I can imagine it like I were there.

  Aly Dec 24, 2009 12:57 AM

Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.

About hannahandemma

Follow Me

Where I've been

Photo Galleries


Near Misses

My trip journals

See all my tags 



Travel Answers about Japan

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.