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Wednesday, August 13

Rubbed In Disappointment

Weeks ago a friend had talked to me about getting massages done. With the family visit, we decided to put it off until the week after they left. We figured I would be good and sore after all that running around anyway.

To make the appointments, we needed one of her Japanese friends to call for us, considering there are no English speakers manning the phones. I had chosen to get a facial done and a prenatal massage… two treats that I desperately miss since we moved to Japan over two years ago. My friend was going to have the same treatments done, minus the prenatal part of the massage. The spa we had chosen was actually one of the few in the area known for offering a prenatal massage. My friend had the facial there before and said it was heaven, hence the decision to have both done.

When the appointment was made through our Japanese liason, she found out that I was not going to be able to get the facial because of some chemicals that they used in the mud. Disappointment number one. I simply love facials. The look and feel of my skin afterwards is truly wonderful. All those tiny tired lines and blemishes are miraculously whisked away. But, I was happy to hear that they were so cautious about putting inappropriate materials on pregnant skin. I turned my thoughts instead to that lovely massage ahead of me. The one that would take away the ache in my lower back and the sharp pains in my heels. Bliss was still ahead of me.

I picked up my friend today and headed for Enoshima, the little beach town and island where Enospa was located. They even had parking, making this place all the more a score. We pulled into our reserved spot and made our way to the door and front desk.

Now Enospa is also a very fancy and popular onsen. I, however, have no interest in trying the onsen again in this lifetime, even though this one has several onsen accommodations that require bathing suits. First, I can’t get into any of my old bathing suits. Second, why would I want to increase my body temperature any more than the baby and the weather have already increased it to?

We took off our shoes and locked them away at the entrance. All was going well so far. That was until I turned around and saw the sign that states the rules, including one “no tattoos” rule. As you may recall, I have three… three of which got me my early exit from the last onsen. The rule worried me a little, but my friend and I figured that since neither of us were planning on using the onsen, it should still be fine. Then I arrived at the front desk.

Here is where disappointment number two comes in. At the desk, the very first question is… go ahead guess. My answer, trying to be an upfront and honest patron, yes indeedy, I do have tattoos. A quick sharp intake of breath and I knew I was in for it. In Japanese and broken English, she tried to tell me how I couldn’t get the massage. We tried to explain that we didn’t want the onsen, only the massage… which should be in a private room so what is the problem? No one will ever see the tattoo. Still explaining in the same un-understandable language mix, the head shaking was all we needed to know. She waited for reinforcements. Another receptionist came over. In mostly English, she said that even though I wasn’t using the onsen, the massage would not happen because of the tattoo. We still didn’t get it, because again… it isn’t like I am undressing and then walking naked through the halls until I get in to the private massage room. All I continued to get was flat refusal.

Here is the point where I am trying hard not to cry. I must admit that I do get frustrated at things like this, but usually I can hold it in better and be a patient and understanding foreigner. Chalk it up to pregnancy hormones, because I was not holding it in very well here. With glistening eyes, I decided to change tactics and instead ask for a simple foot massage. My thoughts? Well, I wouldn’t have to get undressed at all and therefore wouldn’t offend anyone with my unsightly tattoos. I have capris on, so just shove the legs up and help my feet to stop screaming out their pain!

I bet you know the answer I got back.

But why? Was it because I had already admitted that my body was defiled in their eyes that they wouldn’t even touch such a being? What if I had made the appointment initially for only a foot massage, signed in, denied that I have any tattoos? Would they have ever known that there are three hidden on my body? Three places that you would only ever see if I am wearing a bathing suit! I can only guess that the massage must not be in a private room and is instead out where everyone in the place can see, which is not at all the massage experience I want anyway. That would mean no quiet room, no candlelight, no soft music, no gentle aroma in the air.

I tried to get my friend to go through with her treatment, but she refused. She too couldn’t understand the adamant refusal for any sort of treatment, particularly when I switched to the foot massage. We both left, carrying the weight of our stress still trapped in our backs and feet.

And now I am home… and I still can’t entirely understand why. I get that I life in a foreign country where the rules are greatly different. And I respect these rules. I try very hard to abide by them and not cause a single ripple when I don’t understand them or agree with them. Yet, I can’t help feeling frustrated sometimes when it just seems so completely baffling.

I can’t stress enough how much I was looking forward to this. It was one thing that I wanted to do to treat myself… and something that was sure to help my body through the stress and work I had heaped on it recently. I can’t stop tearing up every time I think about how I was sent away. This incident has made me feel embarrassed about myself, when I have never felt that before. I like the way I look… tattoos, big belly and all. Now I am looking in the mirror and not liking what I see. I do believe this feeling has a lot to do (again) with the hormones that are going crazy on me of late. This current wound would probably not make a dent in my mind any other time, but it does today. I’m embarrassed. And I’m mad for being embarrassed.

So much for getting a massage that would take away the tension. Instead… it’s just made it worse. Grr. Damn Japan. Give a pregnant girl a break.


Girl Japan said...

Gesh.. I can not believe this happened to you... Do you think if you were Japanese it would have been different?

Lulu said...

Ah, I feel for you!

I have no tattoos but when I joined a gym in Japan I had to sign a contract saying I didn`t have any (In the same contract it outlined I could not join if I was pregnant either)

Maybe try a chinese place- I always went to a chinese masusse in Japan and it wasn`t a problem!

You asked about finding out how to see what searches lead to your blog. I have never used blogger unfortunately (except for the one time I posted a book list for the 888 challenge) but in wordpress and typepad, which I have used, I usually have to go to stats- where you can see how many people go to your blog a day etc and that is where I found the searches that lead to my blog! I hope that helps!

MattyDale said...

Come to DC honey - any number of places will be happy to rub you down! How are you? Sorry it took me so long to check out YOUR blog. I was going through comments today and there you were!

Anonymous said...

Being Japanese would not have made a difference. Tatoos are seen to be related to the Yakuza (Japanese Mafia). In hide-bound group-think Japan, it makes no difference that you are obviously not Yakuza: a rule is a rule.

Anonymous said...

I understand the rule and they can make which rules they want (since they are the owners) but sometimes this is part of someone's identity- what a bummer..

Amy said...

Isn't that what husbands are for? Hopefully your hubby gave you a massage when you got home!

Kimono Karen said...

Matt - I am totally missing DC spa service now! I might just be on my way!

Girl Japan - Nope, it wouldn't have made a difference if I was Japanese. But I do know that it is no longer a Yakuza thing so much anymore. It really is just plain old group think. Recently, they even banned tattoos from water parks in Japan. This will have to change eventually as body art is quite huge in Japan's younger crowd these days. I would say, give it a few more years. :)

Anon - That darn group think! It is a tough one to get around. But rules are rules. My friend went back the next day on her own. She said they apologized over and over again to her that they couldn't take me. She even had the girl who was to do my massage. She said that if it were up to her, she would have done it no problem. I think it is just more of the older generation still being in control.

Lulu - Thanks so much for the info both here and on your blog! I am going to track down a nice chinese lady for a rubdown.

Amy - The poor husband is a foot rubbing machine! I just was trying to give him a break... and get a nice hour long one for once. :)

J & R said...

Grrr....I don't have tattoos and can't blame my anger on pregnancy and I am furious for you. I am sure you as beautiful as ever and the next time you come to D.C. you, me and the little one are hitting up the nicest pedi/massage parlor my dear...