Whoah, it was cold in Japan today. Well, not Winnipeg cold, but Japan cold, which is around 0 degrees. But the thing is, in Winnipeg inside the house is always a comfortable 22 degrees or so. Not so Japan. It is truly one of the strange paradoxes of Japan. They hate the discomfort of a cold toilet seat, so everyone has a heated one of those, but central heating is just something that no one sees as necessary. And rarely does anyone leave their heater on all night (dangerous and wasteful I suppose), so on a cold morning you wake up with very visible breath. And then there is the argument, the debate about who's turn it is to get out of the warm bed to turn the heater on.

But then there are the baths, and what luxury is lost in the absence of central heating is all gained back through the Japanese bathing experience. They just plain do it better than we do. It is a ceremony, a ritual that has a history reaching back to the times when the Kings and Queens of us dirty Europeans were taking baths only once or twice yearly.

This morning I went to a local "fitness club" which is a gym/ swimming pool/ public bath. After a workout you can go and soak in either an indoor or outdoor bath, with water so hot you turn lobster red in only minutes. And this is a cheap imitation of the real deal specialized public bath houses. There you can soak in any number of pools, from "medicine water" pools, to "polar bear pools" (six or eight degrees). Usually, they even have an electro-shock pool which I can never get into beyond my ankles.

It is such a relaxing and relational way to waste time. Of course, everyone is buck naked (men separate from women) which sometimes causes a little pause among foreigers, but once you get past that, it is a great way to hang out with the guys (pun not intended, but not deleted either). Way better than Monday Night Football.