|Are these alligators or crocodiles? Many Japanese inluding myself can't recognize the difference. (Oniyama Jigoku, Kannawa Onsen, Beppu City, Oita Pref. in Jan.2008)|
Maybe you say "Hey, you share an onsen bath with crocodiles and alligators in Japan? Isn't it too dangerous?" Well, wani appearing at onsen is different from ordinary wani and often described as "Wani Otoko" (Crocodile Man or Alligator Man) as well. Many Japanese except onsen enthusiasts doesn't know its existance yet. It has following characteristics.
Spices: Homo Sapience
Gender: Male only (as far as I know)
Habitat: Gender mixed baths, especially open-air baths not far away from big cities (within 2-3 hours).
Action: Spends long time in mixed bath, waiting for female soakers. Sometimes brings in big bottle of water or tea preparing for hours of soaking. When a target comes, it gazes at her body with eyes wide open, without blinking. Sometimes it follows and approaches victims without a word. Usually they don't make groups, visits mixed baths by themselves. It's easy to recognize them as they have sharp eyes like real wani. (,,ﾟДﾟ)∩
Of course most soakers are well-mannered, but many female soakers I talked with say they met wanis more often recently. As for me, I saw some wanis in last few years including the Kawaranoyu, Tsubame Onsen, Niigata Pref. in Aug.2008. (left)
They threaten our custom at the mixed bath of "not to see, not to show" and the number of the mixed bath is decreasing in inverse proportion of the the mannerless people. （*｀へ´*）
Followings are tips for ladies to avoid wani and unpleasant experience at mixed bath. If you have other suggestions, please leave a comment.
1) Go with your husband or boyfriend.
Wani never stares at ladies with male partners.
2) Go with your friends.
I think three or four of you is enough to drive wani out. Just stare at him and chuckle.
3) Choose day and time
Less possibility to meet wani on weekdays, in the early morning, and in the night. Some onsens with mixed baths set "ladies only time".
4) Towel wrapping
Soaking towels in the bath tub is generally against bathing manner in Japan, but many onsens with mixed bath allow ladies to wrap their body with bath towels.
5) Choose muddy bath
Some onsens aren't transparent. If you soak yourself in a muddy or milky white onsen, you don't have to care about being watched at least while soaking.
6) Inform the manager
He or she will drive wani out, I hope. But wani knows unstrict onsens and onsens without managers.
7) Talk to wani
If you meet a wani unfortunately, just talk to him "Wani desuka? (Are you a wani?)" I think he will leave. But if he answers "Yes, so what?" I have no idea what to say next.
8) Dare not go
There are many good gender separated onsens in Japan. If you just want an onsen experience, you don't have to persist with a mixed bath.
9) Swimsuites bathing
Go to the onsen allow swimsites bathing. But swimsuites bathing is different from our onsen culture. The onsen is to soak in a bath in your birthday suites, not in a pool with swimsuites, I guess.
Finally, I want to suggest wanis to take advantage of their special talent in different fields. How about trying a Guiness World Record of "Keep eyes open without blinking"?