A nice day for a swim?… Or culture shock of a lifetime?
Having a free day in the program is a great thing. It gives us time to explore Japan on our own, find things were curious about and go places we’ve never seen. Good thing our free day was sunny and hot, a nice cool pool to swim in is just what the group and I had in mind.
A few days ago Allan and Zach went on a search for a pool, so that we could swim and relax on our free days and nights. They found the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. The group and I were so excited we’d found a pool to finally swim in, so we thought. The gymnasium was only one stop away on the train from our hotel so the trip was short and we would have two hours to spend there for only 600 yen.
When we first arrived we had a little problem in that with a group of nine we thought we needed reservations, but everything worked out we purchased out tickets and were one step away from pool and fun. After entering, like usual there’s a side for men and women to change, that’s when culture shock set in.
In American gyms and locker rooms while still sectioned off, males and females still keep to themselves and cover up their bodies. Not in Japan, the women and children walked around naked so freely through the locker room, showers and bathhouses. The girls and I tried to get in the hot bath when an old lady told us we can’t be in there, unless we strip down. After that, we knew it was time to go. I even felt bad for the boys and what they went through on the other side.
Apart from the locker room show, we never got to swim, because it’s a MUST to have goggles and a swim cap in the pool. Also, because it was not a leisure pool, but all laps (something I don’t do). So the day was a fail, but it turned out neutral for the fact they gave us a refund without us even asking. For the Japanese culture being so conservative, I didn’t expect what we witnesses at the gymnasium; I would actually expect Americans to be more open to being fully naked in the lockers rooms.