13. Yufuin Hot Springs

Yufuin Hot Springs, oil pastels on canvas, 2009

Yufuin Hot Springs, oil pastels on canvas, 2009

On my around the world trip in the 1990s, I explored off-the-beaten-path in rural Kyushu, the major southern island of Japan.  A Servas host family that I stayed with in the city of Oita suggested that I visit Yufuin, a hot springs spa village in the interior of the island.  The Japanese Railway runs a train several times a week called the Yufuin Express to this village which, for centuries, has been a retreat for Japanese poets, artists, musicians. The town has hundreds of springs, they pop up everywhere in the village.  The architecture is decidedly 18th-century, several buildings still sporting thatched roofs.

I discovered this marvelous public bath (pay 100 Yen into a coin box, on your honor) in the village.  One changing room, a covered pool, and a small outdoor bath from where you get a marvelous view of an antique bridge.  Spent one entire rainy November afternoon in 1993 at this hot spring enjoying.  From the only photo I have from my travels to Yufuin, I have created a self-portrait of oil pastels on a canvas paper.  I’ve used several translucent and metallic pastels in this piece, to convey the quality of light from still and flowing water.

In my recollection of the three-year trip, hot springs figured prominently into my list of destinations.  New Zealand, Mexico, Costa Rica, Korea, Japan, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy and Panama were countries I visited with memorable experiences in hot springs.  And in this image, I have tried to capture the sensuality of my experiences, and the lifelong connection to the forces of Nature which it engendered.

~ by Delfino on 2009/02/28.

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