Monday, January 27, 2014

NAGI NO ASUKARA EP.14 REVIEW / DISCUSSION: Chisaki x Tsumugu, love chart predictions, and eerie ending OST foreshadowing

I usually don't do episode recaps of anime but I absolutely HAD to for this one.  Talk about a mind blower!

And just so you all know, this post is a long one so be prepared!  xD 

So whoever is caught up on the NagiAsu series, we've finally hit the midpoint, YAY~!!!

At first I thought this anime was really slow moving.  Although the animation was gorgeous, had some good drama and lots of emotional tension, it didn't really go anywhere for the longest time.  Only until the last few episodes of the 'first arc' did it start to get the ball moving and finally, it exploded. 

After all the hard work everyone put into the Ofunehiki, the sea god decides to screw everyone over and take Manaka, Hikari, Kaname, and everyone else in Shioshishio and put them all into an indefinite hibernation. 

As for the surface world, they're left to freeze their asses off in an ongoing winter.

Perhaps the one who got the shortest end of the stick was Chisaki.  Poor girl...

She's the only one who was so afraid of everyone changing and leaving her behind.  What irony.  She's forced to face the perils of time and age and change while her friends in hibernation are most likely frozen in time.

The episode starts with a timeskip 5 years into the future.  Everyone on the surface has aged and moved along with their lives although still not over the tragedy that took their family and friends.

Chisaki is acting like a lonely housewife (according to Sayama) and is unfortunately, too depressed and/or guilty to do anything about her speculated feelings for Tsumugu...  :(

Akari now has a bratty little toddler named Akira...

... who seems to have found the joys of the butt-gun. xD

Sayu and Miuna are now in middle school and are approximately at the age where Hikari and the others were forced into hibernation.

I can practically smell the new drama coming. Hikari x Miuna & Sayu x Kaname anyone???

In my opinion, the real stars of this episode are Tsumugu and Chisaki.  There are some flashbacks with the two growing up together; Tsumugu's awesome gramps invited Chisaki to live with them.

Aww.. happy family...

She's totally got the hots for him.

I have the feeling that Tsumugu grew to be very protective of Chisaki and he may even harbor some romantic feelings for her.  He just doesn't act on them because he's a decent guy.  Tsumugu doesn't feel that it's right of him to push his feelings onto Chisaki when she's still not over the fact that she lost her entire family and has possible, unresolved feelings for Hikari.  


I was 100% for the Chisaki x Tsumugu pairing from a while back.  I know Manaka seemed to be 'in love' with Tsumugu but that pairing was so boring and cliche... like your average shoujo manga.  
"The bishoujo boy somehow falls for the clumsy and shy girl who happens to have a huge crush on him."  *Yawn...*  Read that story a million times.

Now Chisaki, she's a very realistic and well-layered character.  On the surface, she's a sweet, kind, and supportive friend.  But as the story goes on, we discover that she's envious towards her friend Manaka because of her physical beauty and ability to naturally act on her true feelings. 

Chisaki feels as if she has these invisible restraints holding her back from doing what she truly feels in her heart.  I think that's a feeling that we all can relate to in some way.  A form of self protection.  

Some great examples in the first arc would be when Hikari is trying to fight for something and Manaka immediately jumps in to help him while Chisaki stares from the sidelines, yearning to help too but unable to move.

My guess is that she doesn't want to get closer with Hikari because she knows he's in love with Manaka and trying to be a good friend, backs off.  So she stays away and feels more and more isolated, ashamed, and disgusted of herself and her feelings.

Tsumugu is sort of like a red-bellied sea slug to Chisaki because of her willingness to reveal to him her deeper thoughts and feelings. :3

Chisaki reveals her most honest self to Tsumugu and he accepts her feelings and who she really is.  If that's not love, I don't know what is.

 Possibly the nicest thing a guy has said to Chisaki.

There's been a lot of subtle tension between Chisaki and Tsumugu throughout the series.  I noticed it.  Even Kaname saw it coming.

Kaname is a lovely boy and is always there for Chisaki, but Chisaki seems to view him only as a good friend.  She's comfortable with him, but doesn't talk to him about her deeper feelings.  I've always wondered about why this was.  Maybe Chisaki doesn't want to burden the kind Kaname with her feelings because he's already so good to her.  Or maybe it's because Kaname's already so perceptive.  He may already know about Chisaki's feelings and shows it on a subtle level.

I like how Tsumugu brings out Chisaki's true self.  In the first arc, there was a scene where Chisaki asked if Tsumugu could be a red-bellied sea slug to her.  Chisaki's true feelings naturally come out when she's around Tsumugu and Tsumugu accepts her feelings without harsh judgement.

Isn't that the foundation of a strong relationship?  Honesty?  From this point on, Tsumugu probably starts to feel closer and closer to Chisaki because she shows her true self to him that she hides from everyone else.  The more truthful people are to each other, especially with feelings they want to keep buried, the stronger the bond they make.

Adding to the fact that Tsumugu and Chisaki have been living together for 5 years now, they've most likely grown closer.

While the show poses a small possibility that the Hikari x Chisaki ship hasn't sunk yet, I do hope Chisaki is over Hikari.  It was sort of concluded that she liked him because of how he loved Manaka.  She loved the Hikari that loved Manaka and well, I really don't know what to make of that.  It's being in love with an idea of what someone is like and that's not necessarily how Hikari would act towards Chisaki if he were to (in some alternate universe) return her love. 

I think that Tsumugu could be mistaking Chisaki's sadness for her heartbreak over Hikari when in fact, she's actually feeling guilty and sad towards Kaname (as she was lovingly hugging Tsumugu before Kaname witnessed it and fell overboard).  She also never gave him a reply to his confession.

Poor Kaname.... ( ; __ ; )

We're left to see what's to become of this Tsumugu x Chisaki x Kaname thing.  Will Kaname fight and try to win Chisaki over, even with the awkward age gap?

Only time will tell.  But I'm still wholeheartedly rooting for Chisaki x Tsumugu.  With all unfinished business aside, I believe they would make a great couple.  They balance each other out very well with Chisaki hiding her true self behind a facade and Tsumugu being upfront and direct.  He forces Chisaki out of her comfort zone and I think that's exactly what the girl needs.  I also think that Tsumugu needs Chisaki's supportive nature with him being from a broken family.  He seemed happy enough having Chisaki living with him and his grandpa.

As a final note, and I hate to be a sadist b*tch, but Manaka really annoyed me throughout most of the first arc so I was kind of happy that for once, the tables were turned when Chisaki finally obtained something Manaka desired, Tsumugu's affections. ( ಠ◡ಠ )

Chisaki was suffering silently for so long while Manaka remained blissfully oblivious.  It seemed so unfair. 


Now going back to the episode, teacher says that the day of the Tomoebi is coming up and this one is special because of some physics of light.... and the ice is a prism.... and blah blah blah science stuff and there will be a projection into the sky of an illusory moon.

If this actually happens realistically, I wouldn't know.  XD

The night of the Tomoebi comes along with Miuna, Sayu, Tsumugu, and his colleague attending.  Chisaki refused to go as she thought it would be meaningless without everyone there.
The night eventually leads to...

Average boy confessing to Miuna,

Miuna being less than impressed,

 Tsumugu and his friend seeing a giant fish on the monitor,

Tsumugu and Miuna being blinded by a bright light,

Hikari showing up naked on the beach,

And Miuna waking up the princess with the 'kiss of life'.  Yeah Miuna, we all know you're not trying to perform CPR. lol

Hikari showed up a lot faster than I expected.  I was thinking maybe he's show up a few episodes in..  The writers must've wanted to go all out on this ep.

It's confirmed that Hikari has not aged a day since the Ofunehiki.  So it's now safe to say that everyone in hibernation is in a form of crystal stasis, un-aging.

The opening song hinted that Kaname would awaken as well and he looks about the same age as Hikari.  Kaname's return probably isn't too far away. 

Now onto my LOVE chart-!  Do you guys like it?  lol...  It's the not the best work ever but I like to believe in its accuracy.  xP

Here's some of my predictions of possible couples in the second arc:

Chisaki x Tsumugu:  Need I say more?  Tsumugu's special attention to Chisaki doesn't go unseen.  At first it seems like a simple act of goodwill on his part.  A closer look reveals that Tsumugu treats Chisaki differently from everyone else and as time goes on, it becomes apparent that he doesn't see Chisaki as a 'friend' anymore.  Chisaki seemed to take an interest in Tsumugu during the flashbacks of their time together after the Ofunehiki but currently, her feelings are a mystery.  Because of unfortunate circumstances and a possible misunderstanding of feelings, they are both stuck in love limbo.

Manaka x Hikari:  Hikari's honest and earnest feelings towards Manaka and how he had to work so hard for her affections made him mature so much from the bratty kid he started off as.  His tenacity is so strong in fact, that Manaka actually starts to feel something for him towards the end.  I believe that love gradually grows over time.  That's what seemed to happen with Hikari and Manaka.  At first Manaka pushed Hikari away because she was afraid of this drastic change in their relationship from close friends to love interests.  But as she saw his honest feelings and his willingness to support everyone including her despite her initial rejection, she starts to view him in a different light.  Hopefully something good will come of their relationship although it's difficult to say because of the mysterious foreshadowing of the opening and closing OST's.

Chisaki x Kaname:  I think this couple is a definite possibility (but I hope it doesn't happen, sorry Kaname!).  Kaname's unwavering feelings towards Chisaki are crystal clear and she hasn't yet responded to him.  I'm sure that Chisaki has been feeling some guilt towards Kaname because of their less than desirable last encounter before being separated.  It must have really torn Kaname inside to see the girl he loved embracing another guy, especially one that sort of snuck up on him.  Kaname might have always thought that Chisaki would only be interested in Hikari and when that crush died out or came to a disastrous end, he would be there to pick up the pieces.  Now, I wonder if he'll return to take Chisaki back.  Kaname is a guy mature beyond his years.  I think it will take a lot more than a 5 year age gap to stop him.

Miuna x Hikari:   Miuna has had a little crush on Hikari ever since their embrace by the pier.  At first it may have been an innocent love, but now that 5 years have passed, Miuna is all grown up and the same age as her now, 'Uncle Hikari'.  That makes it a hell lot more complicated, especially since it will be so much easier for her to fall for him with their age gap non-existent.  But with him being her stepmother's brother and her brother's biological uncle, well, that's something that will be hard for everyone to swallow.  I'm not sure how this love will play out and although it doesn't seem likely that it will happen, the ride is bound to be interesting..

Chisaki x Hikari:   This ship hasn't sunk just yet.  Judging by their distance in the picture, it seems like the possibility of their romance is abysmal at best.  Still, love is a mysterious thing so I'm forced to keep the option open.  In my honest opinion, Hikari's love for Manaka isn't going to fade out any time soon.  Something drastic is going to have to happen for these two to be together.

Kaname x Sayu:  This is one of the more adorable parings.  Like Miuna, Sayu has her own innocent crush on the gentle and mature Kaname.  Actually, lots of girls had a crush on Kaname didn't they?  Sayu's situation is very similar to Miuna's except for the fact that she actually has a fair chance with Kaname as he's not her UNCLE.  The only obstacle Sayu has is the fact that Kaname still may have an unwavering love for Chisaki.  Sayu was young kid but she could see how engrossed Kaname was with Chisaki.  Hopefully something unexpected happens with these two.  I would love to see Sayu get a chance at love and for Kaname to open up his possibilities of romantic interests.

Finally, we can talk about the last portion of this discussion: FORESHADOWING.

Many may have already noticed how the first ending OST with Manaka proved to be actual hints to what would eventually happen in the first half of the anime.

As you can see the uncanny comparison...

 Manaka's less than gentle landing on the sea floor...

You would think someone would die from this right?  Either that or be broken into more than a few pieces...  There's probably a Manaka shaped hole somewhere on the sea floor. ( - . - ;;)

The first ending OST effectively delivered on its foreshadowed clues.  Manaka ended up falling underwater in precisely the same pose as the ending OST.  The world above water fell into an eternal winter (saltflake snow = winter) with Manaka being trapped and probably sleeping at the bottom of the ocean for an unknown period of time (hourglass = time and Manaka's eyes shut = hibernation/sleeping).

I really love the new opening and ending OST's for the second NagiAsu arc.  They both have beautiful lyrics and could very well be giving us all some hints as to what will happen.

The second ending OST starts off with some mysterious sounding piano notes.  In the first scene, Manaka is facing the water on a seemingly warm summer day with an old rusty windmill to the left.  This definitely takes place some time in the future when the long winter finally ends.  I'm led to believe that it could be quite far into the future with the rusty windmill that's seen its day.  Also note the paper plane; I'll elaborate on that later.

The eerie thing about this ending is that we never see Manaka's face.  She's always facing away, making her appear more mysterious and widening the gap between her and the audience.  She's there, yet she's not.  It's like we're observing her through a looking glass.  

Again. note the paper plane.

I've been thinking about those 7 paper planes and came to the conclusion that they probably represent all the relevant characters.  So each plane would belong to Manaka, Hikari, Chisaki, Kaname, Tsumugu, Miuna, and Sayu.

The pink paper plane appeared with Manaka several times.  My guess is that it represents either Manaka or someone she truly loves (hint, Hikari). 

I'm thrown off by the blue-ish colored paper plane being closest to Manaka in the last shot of her while the pink paper plane is much higher in the sky.  If the pink paper plane was closest to her in the last scene, I could conclude that it probably represents her and how she may have been left behind by everyone else.

It's very sad and my prediction for Manaka's ending isn't a happy one.  From what the scenes show, it's like she woke up from hibernation or was released from the sea god much farther into the future where everyone is long gone.

The lyrics appear to give her voice as she's the only one present in the ending OST scenes.


Title: 三つ葉の結び目  Mitsuba no Musubime

Artist: 柳なぎ  Yanagi Nagi

"Mugon no kotoba de ayatori shite."
"Jōzu ni dekita to waratte miru."
"Tokuina no wa darenimo kidzuka renunoni kokoro oshi korosu koto sore hitotsu dake."
"Demo torimaku kireina rūpu wa yawai chikara de te kuriyosete kureru ka na azayaka ni."
"Musunde kono kimochi-goto hanarenai yō ni kataku kataku ā..."
"Hito musubi hito o musunde kitai no iu mama ni saki e asu e ikou."


Title: Trefoil Knot

Artist: Nagi Yanagi

"I play a cat's cradle with silent words."
"And try to smile as if I did well."
"The only thing I'm good at is bottling up my thoughts so no one notices."
"But I wonder if I could be surrounded by that beautiful loop which pulls me in softly, vividly."
"I bind my feelings so that we'll never be apart, firmly, firmly."
"The knots tie people together, so let's approach tomorrow with hope."

There were some verses that hit home with me:

"Tokuina no wa darenimo kidzuka renunoni kokoro oshi korosu koto sore hitotsu dake."
"The only thing I'm good at is bottling up my thoughts so no one notices."

Manaka, besides Chisaki, was never upfront and honest with her feelings (or, never had the chance to be).  She hid how she felt about Tsumugu the whole time (if anything, giving him a very metaphorical explanation of what she thought of him)... which reminds me, that would make the first verse of the song seal the deal of it being 'Manaka's lament'.

"Mugon no kotoba de ayatori shite."
 "I play a cat's cradle with silent words."

'Ayatori' is "cat's cradle" in Japanese.  It's a popular game for children where they manipulate a large loop of string to make different objects ranging from a turtle to Tokyo Tower.

The game of ayatori may be referring to Manaka's way of putting her feelings into metaphors.  Sorry, but that's all I've got..

The song goes on and talks about how 'she' wishes that she could be "drawn into everyone's love" that was so "vivid."  Being left alone, Manaka yearns to once more, feel everyone's love and warmth that was so beautiful.

'She' talks of her feelings being tied into a rope to keep everyone together so they won't ever be apart.  Manaka knows that everyone has left her in life yet if she "ties her feelings into a rope," it would act as a sort of 'lifeline' to keep her memories with the ones she loved, even if they are no longer with her.  Basically, if her memories of them stay strong, they'll always be with her.

The song ends with 'her' satisfied with the fact that everyone is tied together by the love they shared, so they'll always be together and she can go on with hope, even if she's alone.

And that concludes my tragic prediction for Manaka's future.  It's not very happy, if anything, extremely bittersweet.

I'm not saying that this is definitely going to happen or even that there's a high chance.  It's just my prediction based on some hints I got out of the ending OST.  The opening OST actually contradicts my predictions as it hints that Manaka returns and even catches the umbrella Miuna loses, giving her a close connection with one of the other characters.

I'm pretty excited to see what will become of everyone.  I've never made such in depth predictions before so it will be cool to see how close or off I am from the target. ;)

I hope you all enjoyed this analysis!  Feel free to put in your thoughts & opinions on what YOU think will happen.

Friday, January 24, 2014

"Hey! I'm right here!!!" ( .\ _ /. ) /

Okay, so this happens to me every so often and it's never less irritating when it does.

This is about basic conversation etiquette.

I went to a volunteer social event last night.  I brought a guest with me because I thought, "A free dinner?  Hell yeah I'll bring a guest!"

The dinner was very impressive.  It was hosted at a fancy hotel and they even had bartenders serving free drinks.

I'm sitting at a table full of strangers except for maybe a few familiar faces.  There are hundreds of volunteers and no way for me to know all of them, especially since I'm usually isolated on one floor of the hospital.

There's this old guy sitting to my left and my guest, who happened to be my mom on my right.  We're all seated at a round table which accommodates 10 people but there are 9 sitting at ours.

Just so you know, this isn't the only time this has happened.  It's actually happened on various occasions and on various levels although this one was a bit more extreme.

I'm being as sociable as I can and talking with this guy to my left.  He would even turn to me and ask me questions from time to time.  I would say he's an overall, friendly guy but greatly lacking in what I like to call, proper eye-contact.

Here's the thing: I would ask him a question, but when he answers, instead of looking at me and speaking, he looks directly over me and at my mom who I guess happened to be listening as well.  This happened not once, but several times.

So here I am thinking, "Um, hello?  I'm the one asking the question.  Why are you looking at someone else when answering MY question?"

It's not like I'm standing in a group of listeners where speakers are encouraged to make eye contact with everyone.  And he didn't even look at me once while answering the question I asked.  He would only glance at me after he finished speaking.  I mean, sh*t, I'm not invisible!

I don't know why people do this.  It's very rude.  Just imagine going up to someone and asking them a question and instead of looking at you and answering, they look at the silent person standing next to you as if THEY asked the question.

Every time people do this, it makes me feel small, unimportant, and ignored.  It's like I'm being left out of the conversation for no reason.

And this isn't some guy from Islam, Asia, or any other country where eye contact etiquette is different.  This is your average white guy who grew up on the east side of America.

Like I said earlier, this isn't the only time this has happened to me and I'm not singling out my mom.

I'm told I'm quite polite and friendly.  I would hope I'm not so grotesque that I can't be looked upon.  I make great eye contact and smile and usually show that I'm interested in what the other person has to say.  Hell, if I'm asking the question, doesn't that prove that I'm interested enough?!

I just don't understand why people do this.  I ask a question but they look over to someone else when answering.

I always get a bad impression from people who do this.

It's one of the simplest rules of eye-contact.  When someone asks you a question, you look at the ASKER when answering.  Not the person standing next to them. 

Has this ever happened to you?

Here's some links to forums talking about people who suck at making proper eye-contact:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New Years food: Panda Express and Hot pots! ( ^ o ^ )

Sorry for the latepost.  I just had to put up these pics since I spend soooo much time editing them, lol.  I hope you all enjoy the #foodporn!

Our family had a nice, quiet New Years.  My parents went out to a party and so I decided to experiment with the hot pot again.

I'm really happy because we finally have an Asian market reasonably close by where I can purchase thin sliced beef.  ( "^ v ^" )

I didn't have a lot of the ingredients that sukiyaki calls for such as the enoki mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, Chinese cabbage, or shirataki noodles (my fault for bad planning...).  But I made do with basic cabbage, tofu, boiled eggs, and the sliced beef.

It turned out okay but I hope that next time, I can get all the ingredients I need.

My brother bought a Panda Feast on his way home and I made it look pretty.  xD

We also cooked some fried chicken.  It was a good day.  ^^

And that's not all!  I made some ramen that night so by the end of the day, we were all official fat @$$es.

But doesn't it look delicious?  おいしいですね?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Creepy TV show...

Hey guys!  I've been super obsessed with this horror television series called American Horror Story.

 Has anyone watched it yet?

I saw it for the first time on Netflix about a week ago.  Some coworkers were talking about it and they said it was really good.  Since it was on Netflix, I thought I might as well watch the first episode.

Just so you guys know, I'm a big scaredy cat when it comes to horrors and thrillers.  Usually I steer clear away from them.  I get so paranoid after watching and I hate that feeling of being afraid to go to my own bathroom. D:  My coworkers assured me that this series wasn't that scary and it's mostly 'creepy'.

They were right, but I still got slightly paranoid.  XD  I must say, the show is quite gripping and keeps you wanting to watch more and see the mystery unravel.

 Still having second thoughts about watching? ( ""> w <"" )

Season 1 is called Murder House; it's about a family that moves into a house well known for its previous owners that died were murdered/committed suicide there.  Ghosts are the theme for the first season and it's fairly scary and creepy with a good amount of things jumping out but it's not scary like well known thriller/horror movies.  And the more you learn about the ghosts in the house, the less scary they seem.

I surprise myself by watching this, especially at night.  ( > __ > ;;) ...  

The series is really good and I'm looking forward to watching the third season which is about witchcraft.  The awesome thing about this series is that you can start off with any season you want because they're told through anthologies.  Each season has its own separate storyline. ^^

Although it's somewhat scary, I'm enjoying this series (especially with the sexy beast pictured above.) image

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My first onsen experience!

Hello, hello!  So finally I'll be talking about my first EVER onsen experience! ♥ ♥ ♥
It's sort of sad in a way because I've visited Japan a few times before and not even once have I considered going to an onsen.  I suppose I must be more adventurous now. ( ”> w <” ) 

The onsen I went to was Kurama Onsen 鞍馬温泉).

It's located north of Kyoto.  It's easy to get there as long as directions are written down.  I went with my mom and we took about three trains to get there from Kobe.

 At the train station to get to Kurama.

Kurama is famous for being one of the homes to the 'Tengu', a legendary mythical creature of Japanese folklore.

Kurama was a very quaint little town; very pretty and natural located deep in the mountains.  Unfortunately we were short on time and couldn't walk through the town.  Instead we opted to take the complimentary shuttle bus to the onsen.

My first time riding a vehicle in Japan... x3

Outdoor view of the Kurama Onsen Ryokan 

The main entrance

Custom of removing shoes at the entrance

Okay, so here's a funny story.  My mom and I went through this entrance, took our shoes off, and put them into a locker.  When we went to the front desk, they told us that the onsen was actually outside in the opposite direction.

So we had to make our way back out and sure enough, there was a big long banner with Kurama Onsen written on it and and arrow pointing up a rampway.  They were probably thinking, "can't these foreigners read?" lol

Going up this ramp, there was a ticket machine and next to it, a small booth.

  We went to the machine and purchased two tickets and gave them to the lady in the booth.

I think it's wise to learn the kanji for adult (大人) (otona) and child (子供)(kodomo) before going to onsen/sento in Japan, just in case.  This machine did have buttons in English but sometimes there are ticket machines written in only Japanese.  Towel was written as (タオル). 

You can see the toilet room on the far left.

This is where you remove your shoes; I'm guessing you put them in the plastic bags first.  So if you're a decent person and care about the cleanliness of the lockers, you'll put your shoes in a plastic bag before placing them in the locker.

The next room was the undressing room and in it, there were 100 円 lockers.  What you do is put all your clothes and belongings into the locker, put a 100 yen coin into the slot, and you should be able to turn and lock the cubby, removing the key.

When you get back to the locker, you turn the key the other way and it should return your 100 円.  

For describing the undressing room, it was a moderately sized rectangular room with wooden flooring.  There were a couple of sinks before a large lighted mirror on the far left wallThere were also the iconic woven baskets to put items in.  But compared to the secure lockers, I'm sure most people would use the lockers over the baskets.

Now we're finally at the part where I went into the onsen!  Sorry it took so long.  Personally, I like all the details. 

I did extensive research before going on my onsen adventure and brought my own bag of toiletries containing: body soap, shampoo, a scrubbie, and lotion.

I found that this onsen did provide their own soap but I'm sure they appreciate the fact that I brought my own.  It's also nice since the smell of the body soap I used now reminds me of my awesome time at the onsen and sento in Japan. ^^

First I went out and sat on one of the stools where people are supposed to wash and scrub down before entering the onsen.  I noticed a few other ladies using their hands to wash themselves with soap instead of using a scrubbie.  I'm not sure if that's the norm but it's interesting to take note of.

I made sure to scrub really well and after doing so, I rinsed and made my way to the onsen.

It was so beautiful, even if it wasn't at its peak fall beauty (shown in the picture).  The air was fresh, not too hot or too cold, and there was a nice, soft breeze.  The sky was slightly overcast so there was no sun bearing down on us.  It was a perfect day for soaking outside. ^^

 I had to use a pic from online as there's a strict "no picture" policy within the onsen.

I've read reviews about this onsen and one of them pointed out that the water here is re-filtered and chlorinated.  There was a slight chlorine smell (similar to a pool) but it wasn't too strong and I wasn't particularly bothered by it.

The water was warm to the touch.  But as I slowly submerged my body, to my surprise, it was much hotter than I expected the longer I sat in the water.  I would find myself having to sit up on the edge of the rotenburo to cool off before re-submerging.  

We got there at around 13:00 and there was only one older lady in the onsen.  We stayed for about an hour and a half.  During that time, we saw a few others stop by.  It was really pleasant because it wasn't crowded at all and overall, it was quiet and peaceful.  We even had a sprinkle of rain!

As for the nakedness, I admit, I was slightly self conscious, but overall, I really didn't care much.  I'm a 'foreign ninja' and blend in (since people say I look Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean) so no one was really staring at me. 

In my family, at least the girls of our family (meaning my sister, mom, me, and omg, even my grandma!) are super comfortable being naked around each other.  We walk out of the shower naked as long as no guys are around and don't care if the other sees us naked getting dressed...  Okay, tmi.  lolololol  xD

Being naked in front of other visitors was actually quite enlightening.  Sort of like, we've all got the same parts and it's natural so there's nothing to be ashamed of.  In a way, it's a little bit like shedding off the pressures of society and just being bare in front of others in your most natural state.  

There was also an indoor onsen and we tried that one too.  It had its own wash area next to it.  The indoor onsen resembled a medium-sized, square hot pool.

The indoor onsen was also nice but I liked the outdoor rotenburo better..  Probably because it wasn't as hot and more natural.  Being indoors, all the steam and hot air is trapped inside and it's more like a sauna.  This was also a small room and that could contribute to the higher heat level.

After soaking, we towel dried, re-dressed, and headed out.  There was a vending machine conveniently located right outside the entrance of the onsen so I got a cold milk tea.  It was SO refreshing.  Wow, like it was the most refreshing milk tea I've had in my life.

I guess soaking in hot water or exercising or anything else that makes you really hot and dehydrated will make any cool drink super good. x)

So, that's my very first onsen experience.  After visiting kurama onsen, I decided to visit a few other onsen/sento in Gero but none of them compared to the awesome beauty of kurama onsen.  But I haven't visited all that many onsen in Japan yet so what I do know? lol

I highly recommend others visiting onsen on their trip to Japan.  Don't let the nakedness deter you.  It's an experience unlike any other and it's so relaxing!