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"To say the least, the onsen was relaxing, but a night in the room with a bunch of drunk guys wasn't quite the vacation I thought I'd paid for."
- Ryan Roling

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If snow were water
by Ryan Roling, 25, Asahikiwa, Japan
Mar 6, 2000

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We hit the sack fairly early. At least I thought it was early, but the bodies of the men who had consumed sake, like an engine consumes gas, thought otherwise. How do I know that so definitely? Well, if you would have heard the noises they were making as they rested you would have known without a doubt too. On two occasions, a man awoke me from my slumber by the sounds of his dry heaves. Concerned I looked up to see if he was ok, but he hadn't moved. His body was just recovering. (He was the first guy to bed on Sat. and the last guy up on Sun. Today I saw him in the bathroom here at school and he gave me a sheepish smile. I had to laugh.)

And if that weren't enough, of the other 7 guys (excluding myself) in the room, I suppose 3 of them were snoring at decibels that are damaging to the eardrums. To say the least, the onsen was relaxing, but a night in the room with a bunch of drunk guys wasn't quite the vacation I thought I'd paid for.

On Sunday morning we all got up and went straight to the onsen. Breakfast was being prepared for us so it was just a short little dip in the tub. I got out and started drying off in the basketroom (This is the Japanese version of a locker room. They don't have lockers but baskets to put your stuff in. Amazingly, things don't get stolen either. It's not in their mentality to steal, that is nice.) As I was drying off, the cleaning lady meandered into the room. This is not unusual. I have been in the men's room a number of times and the cleaning lady comes in to do her duties as the men stand "at attention" to the urnal. But, this time I was stark naked. And usually it is an old woman who is cleaning. This maid was not old at all. I would guess she was about 37 because she looked to be 27. And, she took her sweet old time. She pushed her little mophead right over to my area and cleaned the floor. I don't know if she was trying to get a peak at a foreigner or what, but she stood with her back to me with a mirror on the other wall. So I put on my Scoobie Doo Under-roos and high tailed it out of there in my bathrobe.

Because it was dark when we arrived the night before, I didn't get to see what the forest looked like in the Hokkaido winter. As we descended down the the mountain I was amazed. I thought we got a lot of snow in the city, but out there, where everything was virtually untouched, I got to see just how much snow we have received this year. And the only thought that came to mind as we rolled along in our bus on our way back home was; "Wow! This is a lot of snow. I suppose if snow were water, this mountain would be the ocean."

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