My first question was, “About how deep do I submerge myself? To my neck, what about my knees? Should I keep my arms free?”

“Your choice,” said the attendant. He shook a soiled towel until the sand came off and it was nearly white again. He dropped it into a hamper filled with dusty linens.

I stepped into the pool of black sand. This was a consenting quicksand, a dark bath that warmed me beneath and throughout. I thought I would be more scared—I thought of the horse in that one movie from my childhood, the horse that sinks—but a calm found me as the attendants patted down more sand, weighing down my chest, my arms, my knees.

When we were younger and at the beach, my sister and I buried my dad up to his neck in the sand. Katherine sculpted a mermaid’s tail near Dad’s legs and I carved two sandy boobs at his chest. “Please don’t give me breasts,” he said. “That’s not appropriate.”

When it was time for me to leave the sand bath, the same attendant from before ushered me to the mineral springs. The dark volcanic sediment—ash, almost—that minutes earlier was forcing me downwards into an underground serenity, washed clean off. I received a blue robe embroidered with Japanese characters. “What does this one mean?” I pointed.

Onsen,” said the attendant. “It’s our logo. It means ‘spa.'”

Car Seat Headrest’s “Twin Fantasy” released (or re-released) last week. It sounds incredible. More here.

[Photo by Bruno Vanbesien]

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