Saturday, Sept. 9 
 Saturday night in Matsuyama 

  Kazuko and Neal met us at the airport and we drove straight to the onsen (hot springs and public bath) at Tsukasa Hotel, one of dozens of onsens in Matsuyama, to get cleaned up. 
  By the end of our trip we would become onsen connoisseurs, enjoying the relaxing ritual and its soothing effects on our overworked biking muscles: You wash yourself while seated on a stool in front of the faucets (you use a little wooden or plastic basin to rinse, and often there is also a showerhead on a flexible hose), then soak in the spring-fed pool of warm water, then rinse off or just get out and sit on the edge of the pool to cool off, then soak again, and repeat as many times as you want. Bathing this way can take an hour or more. 
  The setting (indoor or outdoor decor and landscaping), water temperature, mineral content and supposed health benefits of the water vary from onsen to onsen. The pools may be made of tile or stone. Sometimes there are multiple pools, with features such as bubble jets, streams of falling water to massage your back and shoulders, pebble floors to massage your feet, mud to smooth onto your skin, saunas, steam baths, and cold-water pools. Typically there are separate dressing rooms and baths for men and women. You leave your clothes and towel in the dressing area and take only a washcloth to the bath. Soap and shampoo are provided, or you may bring your own. While soaking, you leave your washcloth in your basin or wear it on your head. 
  In Kyushu some onsens are co-ed. Women may wear towels around their bodies or hold their washcloth lengthwise in front of them, and men may hold their washcloth in front of their groin. Couples or families may bathe together in kazoku buro (family baths), and other couples or families wait their turn for these private settings.