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Gap Year Abroad

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11/11/2015

Weekend Getaway

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The Rainbow Bridge

 

    It has been a crazy couple of weeks! Settling into our new homes, attending CIEE core classes and activities, and just plain adjusting to living in Japan. On top of all of this, our language classes (taken at the Intercultural Institute of Japan) just started. Over all it's been pretty mind blowing. So, even though we have only been here for about a month. . . It was time for a vacation.

            When planning the trip, we originally had two things in mind: onsen* and kayaking. Up until the night before we left, our main focus of the trip was to go kayaking. Unfortunately, due to pricing and weather, we (and by “we,” I mean Lee, who basically planned everything and did a super awesome job) decided to go ahead and just make it a full-on onsen trip. We chose Oedo Onsen in Odaiba, a man made island resort town about 45 minutes south of Tokyo.

            We left for Odaiba on Saturday, after my group finished volunteering in Ueno. Meeting up with group A, we took the Yurikamome (the special elevated train specific to Odaiba) there, which was exciting. It took us over Rainbow Bridge and we got a great view of the island. After arriving we checked into our hotel. The hotel was beautiful! After settling in, we went out to find dinner and then explored around for a bit.

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Famous Gundam statue (Deborah for scale)

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The side of the Fuji TV building in Odaiba had light shows that played every half-hour. (Taken from our balcony)

 

The next morning was cloudy and cold; a perfect onsen day. After leaving the hotel we found a delicious American-style breakfast.

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My pancakes <3

 

Once breakfast was finished, we headed for Oedo Onsen. Once we all checked in and given our locker keys and yukata* we went into the locker rooms to change.

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Gorgeous yukata selfie featuring Deborah

 

Once we were all traditionally dressed, we were able to enter the main room.

Decorated with scenery from the Edo period, the large main room had many restaurants, shops and games. different paths lead off to dining areas, nap rooms, the spa, an outdoor foot bath area, and of course the onsen itself. We decided to enter the onsen first. The baths were gender separate, so we headed off to our own respective changing rooms. onsens are super fun and relaxing, but they can be a little bit awkward for someone who has never done it before. In a traditional onsen, no clothes are allowed in the bathhouse. So basically everyone goes commando. Once we got used to it, it was really enjoyable! There were baths both inside and outside, hot baths, cold baths, baths with big bubbles, baths with little bubbles, baths that made it look like you were sitting is the middle of a pond, and even baths that were inside of barrels. I had a lot of fun, and enjoyed trying the different types. After soaking for a while, we decided it was time for lunch. Re-emerging in the main room with our comfortable yukatas back on, we met up with the guys and found some food, then explored around a bit more.

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The beautiful outside foot bath area

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The footbaths later in the evening

 

    I hung around the footbaths a lot, it was super relaxing even if I kept dropping the bottom of my yukata in the water). There was even a separate foot bath area with fish that would eat the dead skin off of your feet, it was so ticklish! After that a few of us got massages, which felt amazing! Once we had finished, we decided to close out our day and go back to the hotel. On the way back we stopped at a buffet style restaurant for dinner. It was delicious. Plus there was a chocolate fountain, which was the best thing ever! Overall, it was an absolutely fantastic day.

            After checking out of the hotel the next morning, we had breakfast and then went exploring. It was Monday, but it was a national holiday so we had no classes, meaning we could stay in Odaiba as long as wanted. Lee had learned of a place that possibly rented kayaks*, so we went to go check it out. We found the place, but it only had two kayaks available. Lee and Dan ended up taking the kayaks while I decided to rent a paddleboard. I was super pumped because even though I had seen paddleboards being ridden before, I had never personally used one. I figured this was probably the best time to try it out. Everyone else went exploring or just hung out on the beach.

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The paddleboard.

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Selfie in the middle of the bay with Dan and Lee.

Paddleboarding was super fun! I, of course, thought that I did not need to change into a bathing suit because; “I have good balance” and “I won’t fall in. . .”

You can guess what happened.

After hanging out on the water for a while, we decided to go back in to change, (and eat ice cream!) and shortly after returned home.

            Odaiba was wonderful! I’m so glad everything worked out well and that we were able to have our own little getaway before school really sets in, because I know when it does I’ll be looking a lot like this:

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Adorable dog we saw in a Odaiba pet store

Until next time,

Maddy

* Onsen - traditional Japanese bath house.

*Yukata - traditional Japanese robe-like garment.

* A kayak is a traditional Japanese… haha just kidding, but seriously though you should know what a kayak is.

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