I was a bit wary.
I looked over the guidelines on the website and then decided to toss my misgivings to the wind and enjoy the adventure. Plus, I wouldn't be going alone but with a friend that I trust.
I am very glad I did.
Yes, it was a little unsettling to walk into a garden and see half a dozen naked adults sunning themselves or drinking tea from little cups. Yes, I had concerns that my pale pasty nakedness would be an eyesore. Yes, there was a part of me that recoiled at the idea of nakedness for nakedness sake… and not say as part of something carnal and umm, more adult.
My apprehensions were all for naught though… what I found was a small group of people who enjoyed hot water, the hot sauna, and the sunshine in an actual wholesome sort of way. There was a sense of community as people of different ages and genders and body types discussed topics that ranged from car engines, to wine, to local Santa Cruz gossip, to favorite vacation spots, to the headaches associated with planning weddings or retirement parties. Heck, I even talked literature with one gal and where to get a great deal on costume jewelry with another.
Even though it was clothing optional, only one gal actually was wearing a swimsuit… the rest of us? Naked. I sort of forgot about the naked thing after a while… at least as long as I was in the hot tub talking. I only really became aware of the “yes, I am naked” thing when walking around feeling the air on parts that don’t normally feel air, while holding my towel (what do you do with a towel if you aren’t wrapped up in it?)... and while sunning myself. I suddenly had an image of getting a sun burnt bum and decided to move into the shade.
The garden itself was beautiful... rambling towers of fuchsia plants, smooth walking stones made to not hurt bare feet, soft grass, tranquil music, shade, sun, and a very Japanese sense of calm permeated the area. Naked or no, it was a very peaceful place to spend a few hours.
I’m not sure I will make it a regular thing… I am also not sure I would recommend it to others unless they are already of the mindset that naked water time is a good thing… but on the whole I am very glad that I went.
Chalk it up to a very nice, very unique, sort of experience. And at least now I can say I didn’t let my wariness hold me back.