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We celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary by being buried in very hot sand. Suna yu is a sand bath, and there are several in Beppu, the famous hot spring town nearby Oita. I was eager to try this but Tod wasn't so sure. He agreed to come along and wait for me while I bathed. But when we arrived and he saw the charming seaside location he relented. It turned out that he liked it. Lying under a heavy pile of 41 degree sand is utterly relaxing. Ten minutes passed in the blink of an eye (or 40 winks in my case), and then we had to wiggle our way out to make room for the next people.

After our sand bath, we walked up the hill to the jigoku. Jigoku means hell, and it's what the very hottest springs are called. There are 9 of them in Beppu. All are too hot to bathe in, and have been turned into tourist traps. But interesting ones...this one says "Danger, if you fall in the pond you will be boiled."


We visited three of the jigoku. At the first one, the steaming water turns white in contact with air; at the second the water was salty and claimed to prevent you from going to hell if you drank it (I had to think a long time about that, but took a tiny sip to taste it so I'll probably end up in purgatory); the third boiled like mad and threatened to splash anyone who got too close.

When we'd had our fill of Beppu's hot water, Tod treated me to a delicious and luxurious French dinner on the 21st floor restaurant of our hotel. There were five pairs of silverware bracketing our plates. We love to eat well, but don't often splash out on a ritzy meal like that. It was a treat. And the bottle of 2000 Chateauneuf du Pape was a very good wine to toast our long marriage.

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Of all the things I miss about living in Beppu, the thing I miss most is getting into hot water. An over-chlorinated hot tub at the health club isn't even in the same class of experience.

Being buried in hot sand is wonderful, especially if you feel tired and ache with a cold coming on.

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