Wednesday 15 January 2020:
Continuing from where I left off in the previous post, after my very satisfying lunch, it was time for onsen!!! Speaking of onsens, I planned for one, thought I’d go for 2, but ended up visiting 3. Despite only starting to go for onsens this trip, I am in love with the entire experience. To me, it is the best medicine to relax my sore and stiff muscles, to unwind the stresses of the day, and fully rejuvenate myself. Onsens are so therapeutic, it’s almost medicinal.
Since this was an unplanned onsen visit, a quick Google search the day before led me to the Fufu No Yu Onsen in Arashiyama. The main reason for choosing this particular onsen was because it is not necessary for visitors to stay overnight in the ryokan, unlike many other onsens in the same area. An extra bonus was that the interior looked extremely pretty so I was excited to have a look for myself!
Similar to the Kurama Onsen, I had to purchase my ticket (1000 YEN) from a vending machine to hand over to the counter staff. In exchange, a locker key was provided for me to store my clothes in the changing room.
My first thought when I stepped in the changing/dressing room was just WOW. There were rows of sinks and large beauty mirrors adorned with individual warm orange light bulbs, which provided a very romantic lighting. At each seat, there was a selection of face wash and other toiletries available for use after soaking in the onsen.
Not wanting to waste any more time, I quickly undressed and headed over to the shower area where I proceeded to wash up.
The good thing about this onsen was that their indoor and outdoor onsens are located close to one another, merely separated by sliding glass doors so it was very convenient to switch between the two. The indoor onsens had 2 types: one clear, and the other milky. For the outdoor area, there is a cold bath available for visitors to cool down when it gets too hot.
I’m more of an outdoor onsen kind of girl because I like to watch the scenery as I soak so I immediately made a beeline for the outdoor one. I found a cushy spot between some rocks and nestled in. It may be weird to think of solid hard rocks as cushy, but that’s what it really felt like surprisingly. Perhaps after years of being lean on by countless of bodies, they’ve somehow been moulded into shape (much like the induced-fit model of enzymes – I’m a nerd). It was drizzling slightly during the first part of my soak. I sat in the hot water, watching plumes of smoke rise up over and over again. When it got too hot, I’d stand up, go to the cold bath and soak my feet (too wimpy to soak the entire body), and then head back into the hot bath to chase away the newfound cold. Back and forth I went, and I stayed until I watched the slight drizzle turn into pouring rain and then finally the heavy grey clouds giving way to clear blue skies and sunshine. It’s amazing how one can spend so much time doing just absolutely nothing and staring at the same scenery for 2 hours straight. It’s a nice change to be able to sit still, listen to the sound of nature and my own breath, to be so present in the moment and let time trickle silently.
After a good long soak both indoors and outdoors, I finally decided to leave. Just when I thought there was nothing more, I stumbled across the lounge area that was free for onsen-goers to relax in. There were tables and mats available for people to sit and chill, while appreciating the beautiful scenery outside. Massage chairs were also provided for those wanting to pamper their bodies even more. I was highly impressed by this onsen indeed – they have everything and more than what I was expecting!
As always, I exited the onsen feeling sleepy so what better way to perk myself up by getting a cup of good coffee am I right! And it so happens, there was an Arabica % outlet near the river bank which I stumbled across earlier. I’ve always wanted to try their coffee after seeing the long snaking queues at the Singapore branch, so this was the perfect opportunity to finally give their coffee a taste – at the country of origin no less! On my way to the coffee shop, as I was crossing the Togetsukyo bridge once more, the most magical site greeted me: a half rainbow partly concealed by a cluster of white puffy clouds. In that particular moment, witnessing nature’s raw beauty made me stop in my tracks right in the middle of the bridge, and I stared shamelessly at the view. A wave of deep happiness rose from the depths of my heart, spreading through every fibre of my body, lighting all my senses. Even now, as I think back to that moment, I can still vividly remember how I felt and it continues to bring me great joy.
Many photos later, I arrived at the Arabica store – with its super chic, classy and minimalistic layout. Totally envious of the staff there because they get to work in such a great environment, with the luxury of enjoying great scenery from their large glass windows.
I ordered a cup of hot soy latte and it was delicious! The coffee was aromatic, rich and thick with the slightest hint of bitterness. There was no sourness at all which I’m so thankful for since I hate sour coffee more than anything else. The soy milk complemented the entire drink by giving it a creamy finish. Definitely a good cup of coffee – on par with one of my favourite coffees that I had in Adelaide!
That day, I found myself smiling so much – not because of anything funny, but because everything is so beautiful and the intense soulful joy felt is indescribable. I’ve never had such an experience before, which made it the best ever day in my entire existence. That was the last day of my solo trip, and I really couldn’t have asked for a better ending.
Would I fly a few thousand miles to come back here and do everything again? You bet I would.