Yesterday's article in the The Age about an Australian using a Japanese sento for the first time made me quite homesick for my other home, Kyoto. And then I found all these cool sento images on ii ne kore and they made me sink deeper into my 'natsukashi' moment. You see, I love the sento/onsen experience so much I made 3 woodblock prints about them when I was living in Kyoto (see pics above): Sento 1, 2 & 3.
For the 7 years I lived there I didn't have a bathroom in my tiny apartment and so I used the local sento every night (I was lucky to have 3 in my neighbourhood which I nicknamed: clean but mean; dirty but friendly; and just heavenly but a little too far to go). So you see, the sento and me, well, we became quite intimate. I even made friends at the sento. One Japanese woman who I'd made idle chit chat with in the bath over the years thought, up until the evening before I left the country for good, that I was French (we only spoke in Japanese). When I told her I was going to Australia she looked surprised and asked me why. When I told her it was where I was from she was really very shocked. All those years she thought I was a French woman! I wonder what that says about my Japanese pronunciation?