Have you heard of www.couchsurfing.com? I would rather not explain so if you haven't then just check out the site and it'll explain itself to you. If you have heard of it, then great, what follows will actually make sense to you...sort of. Well, it will make sense in the way that I wordily reroute things.
Beppu is Japan's hotspring capital. I read some statistic once that it has more hot water than any other place in the world save Yellowstone. Beppu is the slice of meat between gorgeous mountains and a glistening bay. There's so much to do, so much to see! The Hells, monkeys, sea life, wild animals, Hello Kitty and Friends! And although the city officials don't wanna admit it, it's also renowned for its dirty, seedy, raunchy underground sex industry, brimming with snack bars, porno theaters, and that infamous sex museum (conspicuously missing from its maps). It's a tourist town, with peak season in the summer (odd because I would imagine tourists would be attracted to warmth in the winter). I've come to love my town for all its worth, not that I'll ever walk alone at night. I can understand Beppu's allure to the outsider looking in. When I think of the Japanese I think of:
- made up and dressed up wackos and bizzaros
- bored and tired salarymen
- trains filled to the maximum capacity of people but are still completely silent
- its categorized language gauged on the level of appropriate politeness
- virginal, giggly, shy school girls
- a lifestyle infused with stifling tradition, strict customs and rituals!
Who wouldn't want to leave all that behind and make the long trek very south for...bath water?
Let's take a look at the bath.
Bathing is something you do completely nude, stripped down to the very literal core of your being. You're not even allowed to step into a hotspring unless you've scrubbed yourself squeaky. Any excess dirt, sebum, and baggage must be rigorously washed off and drained. Yes, even behind your elbows, neck, ankles, those hard to reach places. You can shave if you want. You are clean, naked, vulnerable to the elements. Stripped of your guard of clothing and a layer of skin cells. You are the most You you will essentially be. When you're in the water you can just let it all soak in, relax, bliss out. It's very personal; you're sitting in a pot of You Soup...or maybe a You Broth. You feel safe and protected in the warm water surrounding you, you're back in the womb. (And maybe your mother bathed you too, so it could be Oedipal...gross). The water has healing properties. When you're ready to come out you're off on a fresh start, up and at 'em, to take it all on again. Reborn. It's spiritual. Beppu is one hot spot where you can just get the fuck away from it all, away from your compartmentalized lives of home/work/work friends/friends/school rinse and repeat.
Which brings me to couchsurfing.com. I've had a profile based in Arcadia since last September and I decided to host when I moved to Beppu. Of the 23 listed hosts in Beppu, I would estimate five hosts are actually trustworthy whereas the others seem like people who are not really the people they say they are, who might kill you, steal your shit, or do sordid things to your body while you sleep. Since The Bepp is such a popular town for all those reasons I've listed above, I get quite a few requests, for the other reasons listed above. Since moving here in late November, I have hosted twice and I have some surfers on their respective ways, a pair as soon as this weekend. My account has never seen so much action. I got THREE requests today. I declined them all and I write this entry now because I feel badly for not sharing. It's not the "sharing of my space" and the "sharing of trust" with complete strangers I've met on the internet that's bothering me. I don't mind hosting. I love meeting new people and "sharing stories." But mostly, I feel bad for declining because I really just don't want to share Beppu. I want beautiful Beppu to myself. This is My seedy little town. It's already bad that Beppu's in Lonely Planet.
In the words of my sagacious 13 year old sister who once argued with me over something I cannot remember a long time ago, back when she could not differentiate pronouns, "It's mine, not you. Don't touch."
And sometimes a girl just wants to have a weekend alone. I teach bratty kids all week. I wonder if there's a place I can go to just get away...