off to Seoul…

This post originally appeared on my AikiWeb blog…

I’m off to Korea. No, I’ve not quit the Course just now. My Tourist Visa expires April 6, but the Course starts April 1 and there is a pre-Course meeting March 27, so I really have to re-new my visa now.

I’ve got a flight on Peach airlines (Japan’s first low-cost carrier) early tomorrow out of Kansai International. The plan is to go directly to the Japanese Embassy, give over my passport and paperwork, then retire to a jimjilbang and stay there until my visa is ready.

Jimjilbangs are Korea’s answer to the Japanese public bath, except you can sleep in them as well. It’s actually rather strange. When you go in, they hand you a pyjama uniform. Then you go to the pools and saunas, get into your pyjamas, and go hang out in a huge single-gender common area with various meal options, massage opportunities, etc. You can sleep there, but there are no private rooms, just one huge common area, so it looks kind of orgy-like. Compare this photo of a jimjilbang



…with this photo of infamous Plato’s Retreat.



Except for the pyjamas, it looks kind of similar, no? Of course, it’s Korea, so there’s not really the same sexual tension you would get with a hypothetical American jimjilbang.

I stayed in the jimjilbang last time I was in Seoul, and there was a guy there hiding out from people he owed money to. He had been there for a month. There’s no windows as it’s underground, so he’d been without sunlight for a month, I guess.

If you take a look at that photo, you can see the area is clearly big enough to practice kihon dosa. Probably I won’t be practicing ukemi, but my schedule is to include:
(1) kihon dosa
(2) seiza in the shallow heated pools
(3) reading Angry White Pyjamas again
(4) Total Aikido – bun bu ryo do!

Wish me luck with the visa at the Japanese embassy. I’m concerned they will suspicious of someone wanting to go on “tour” for another 3 months in Kyoto, but what can I do with a Working Visa sponsor, yet?