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Photographer's Note

So... I all of a sudden decided to interrupt my reminiscences from Japan with a photo from Athens...

Only joking! This is Yunohama - hot springs complex built in the style of Greek ruins. Against what many people expect, in Japan you will find not only traditional Japanese and modern, westernised architecture but also elements of other cultures, including ancient Greece. I suspect the word “Yunohama” comes from the name of the mythical Greek goddess Juno, but, like with many things Japan, I may be wrong.

I think this is the first photo from Niijima Island, and from the whole Izu Islands archipelago on TE. Or at least I couldn’t find any. It’s a bit strange as the islands are very close to and accessible from Tokyo. In fact, they are situated in the very Tokyo Prefecture.

I took the morning ferry from Takeshiba Pier and arrived at my minshuku – a traditional Japanese inn just before midday. I have already mentioned the world “minshuku” in the note to this post and showed the hospitality you encounter in that sort of accommodation here. Having just stayed in one of those family-run guesthouses in Hakone I didn’t think another one would surprise me with anything.

I was greeted by a smiling lady who bowed some ten or twenty times before she handed me a pair of slippers. I knew I was in a traditional Japanese house. I dropped my backpack in my room and started looking for the bathroom. To my surprise all I found were toilets but no bath or shower. “That’s impossible; this is a hotel,” I thought. Desperate to discover where the bathroom was, but too embarrassed to ask, I spent the afternoon standing by my bedroom door, pretending I was just about to walk in, so I could watch what other guests were doing. In the early evening they all started leaving. They reappeared at dinner time all wearing yukata – a casual form of kimono that is often worn after bathing. I realised what they had been up to. The Izu Islands are located inside a volcanic belt and famous for their onsen - hot spring baths. So, it being a budget minshuku there simply was no bathroom; the guests were supposed to go for a dip in the hot waters of one of the many onsen instead.

In WS a photo of Yunohama in daylight and an image showing a real temple – traditional Japanese Shinto shrine.

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Additional Photos by Kasia Nowak (kasianowak) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1305 W: 6 N: 2362] (13657)
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