When it comes to all things unique, the Japanese are usually there with some random invention or innovation, which most in the West regard as different, if not downright bizarre.
Then again, the Japanese are world-renowned and highly respected for their contribution to everything from technology to health. Sand bathing is the latest innovation to become popular among tourists visiting Kyushu, Japan’s third largest island.
The island is well-known for its subtropical climate and bubbling volcanic waters, with one of its main attractions being hot-spring baths, known as onsen, offered by various spas.
There are also sand bathing facilities where visitors are buried in a large pit of volcanic sand for up to 30 minutes.
According to the people who do it, the experience is said to be highly soothing and relaxing, as well as therapeutic and healthy for their skin and general well-being.
The bathing areas have large boxes of sand, heated up with natural hot spring water which offer a hot, relaxing spa experience for visitors.
There is buzz on various websites and blogs regarding the sand bathing spas in Japan, with tourists saying that while the bathing itself was strange and a little uncomfortable, the after-effect is amazing.
Journalist Bee Rowlatt wrote in the Telegraph, “The weight (of the sand) coming off is far more of a relief than escaping from the heat. I push the sand aside and sit, in sudden and complete joy. I feel alert and light. I feel recharged rather than relaxed, and the effect can last for several hours, without that collapse into sleepiness that can follow heat treatment and spa sessions. I can’t rightly say that it made me healthy, but it certainly made me happy.”
Rowlatt may have enjoyed her experience at the sand bathing spa, but National Geographic reporter Andrew Evans didn’t.
“I tried desperately to relax but kept checking that clock, thirteen minutes, fourteen minutes; fourteen minutes and thirty-four seconds, thirty-six seconds. Afterwards, I lingered under a long, cold shower that proved beneficial in curing me from the effects of the heat.”
[Image credit: digitalnomad.nationalgeographic.com]