‘Well, you’ll see it for yourself, and decide how it’s different.’
James and I have been planning a Mornington Peninsula trip – mainly for the hot springs - since last August, but work got in the way, and we decided to postpone the trip. Subsequently, life brought me back to Singapore, and we had to postpone the trip yet again. Since I was back in Melbourne for the past two weeks, we took the opportunity to put our plans into action.
|The Peninsula Hot Springs [Source]|
The whole experience proved to be relatively different from the ones I have been to in Japan, but was just as rejuvenating, relaxing and enjoyable. If it was not for the fact that I wanted to visit some wineries, and some restaurants, James and I could have easily spent the entire day soaking in healing waters of the hot springs. We realized later that we should have done the Peninsular Hot Springs last. According to the server at Max’s (we dined here after the hot springs) the Peninsula Hot Springs is really pretty at night, and he said that the experience is ‘magical’. Admittedly, we are not that good at planning itineraries; we are usually the sort who will go with the flow of things when we travel. If I were to go to Mornington Peninsula again, I would definitely do it at night next time.
|Doesn't it look magical at night? [Source]|
- A hot spring is still called a hot spring in Australia. The Japanese hot spring is called Onsen - traditionally they are used as public bathing places.
- Onsen comes in many types and shapes – outdoors, indoors, public, or private (as part of a hotel or ryokan).
- Bathing suits are compulsory in the Peninsula Hot Springs. In Japan, nudity is compulsory in the Onsens; bathing suits and towels are not allowed in the pool and it is considered rude to use it – you can only use a small face towel to protect your modesty while walking around the bathing area. In recent years, though, there are modern Onsens with mixed-gender baths that requires bathing suits – they are pretty rare.
- Both genders share the bathing area in the Peninsula Hot Springs. In Japan, bathing areas are often separated according to genders; you may find some mixed-gender Onsens, but they are not as common and are not very popular among Japanese women. Frankly speaking, I like the Australian way of using bathing suits and a mixed-gender bathing area. It is more family and couple-friendly; you can relax together with your loved ones and not worry about being nude in front of others.
- In both the Peninsula Hot Springs and the Onsens in Japan, washing prior to entering the pool is compulsory. In Australia, you wash yourself in the shower room, but in the Japanese Onsen, you wash yourself (in front of others) in a washing area beside the thermal pools. Entering the Onsen while still dirty or with traces of soap on the body is socially unacceptable.
- In Japan, people with large tattoos may be denied entry to the Onsen, because tattoos are often associated with Japanese gangs (Yakuzas). I am not too sure if this rule applies to foreigners, some of my expat friends with tattoos have been allowed in Onsens. In Australia, that doesn’t really matter if you have a tattoo.