Now there’s even more to love about our crazy cheap house in the mountains north of Tokyo.

After spending a day stringing up Christmas lights (which ended up looking more like gaming lights) all over and inside the SoraHouse, our ultra-cheap, US$9,100 country home in Japan, our reporter Go Hatori was tired. A good tired, since the SoraHouse looked great, but tired nonetheless, and cold too, since it gets pretty chilly up in the mountains of Saitama Prefecture at this time of year.

When you’re feeling tired and cold, nothing will set you right as quickly as a nice, hot bath, but therein lies a problem: the interior of the SoraHouse is still in the very early stages of renovation, and we don’t have a working bathroom yet. So our boss, SoraNews24 founder Yoshio, took it upon himself to set up an open-air bath instead.

The first step was picking up a large storage box from a home center to use as the tub, plus a bathtub pump, an easy-to-find device in Japan that’s usually used to pump used bathwater into a washing machine for reuse. Then, Yoshio connected the pump to a long flexible steel tube, which he circled back around into the tub again, with its midsection passing through a campfire.

▼ Water is sent from the tub into the tube by the pipe, heats as it passes through the fire, and returns to the tub, keeping the contents of the tub perpetually warm.

You might recognize this jury-rigged boiler system as being similar to the one we used for our campfire-heated foot bath a few weeks ago, but with one important difference. For the foot bath, we’d used a series of short, connected tubes, but the links weren’t tight enough to keep water from spilling out as it passed from one section to the next, so the tub would only stay full and warm for so long. With a single long tube, though, the leakage problem was completely solved, Yoshio claimed as he beckoned Go to try it out.

Before hopping in, Go splashed a little water on his shins. This practice of using a bit of the bathwater to warm your skin up and make for a smother acclimation to the bath is called kakeyu, and it’s something serious Japanese bath aficionados will tell you is an important part of the bathing/relaxing ritual.

Then it was time for Go to hop in, and…

…he was instantly in paradise!

Stretching out in this warm, wet world, he felt the fatigue of the day melt away, while simultaneously heating up his core and filling him with vitality.

In front of him, he had the view of the newly illuminated SoraHouse…

…and if he tilted his head back, he could see a sky full of stars, the sort of astrological array you can only see once you’re well outside the big city.

▼ Go apologizes for forgetting to take a picture of the night sky, but promises that it looked like this: ☆ * ◎ ★

Just when Go was thinking that life couldn’t get any better, he noticed something flaring up in the fire out of the corner of his eye.

Looking over, he saw Yoshio squatting down by the flames, holding a pair of tongs, and those tongs were holding…

sweet potatoes, which Yoshio was now roasting for them to munch on.

SoraNews24 headquarters is located in Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood, and we absolutely love the excitement of the capital city, with its endless supply of dining, shopping, and entertainment options. But once in a while, it’s nice to just get away from it all and have a soak and a snack, so the SoraHouse is a purchase we’re feeling happier and happier about these days.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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