Japanese modern baths

On The Japan Times Online there is an article about two baths which are very popular in Japan these days. Japanese have very old tradition of bathing in hot springs, which is called onsen. There is a lot of hot springs in Japan because of the volcanic origin of the archipelago. They are rich with minerals and offer many health benefits. But today, Japanese take traditional baths to a new level and experiment with them a lot.

First type of new bath is a germanium bath where you soak your hands and feet in a hot water with high concentration of germanium. Germanium is a chemical element found in the periodic table under the symbol Ge. The bath session is about 20 minutes long, and it makes you sweat because water is hot. This bath is believed to enhance circulation and remove toxins from your body, improve skin, help with digestive disorders and circulatory problems.

The other type of bath is not technically a bath, as there is no water involved. What is especially interesting is that it is very similar to an infrared sauna. In this bath, called ganban-yoku, you lie on a hot stone slab, which emanates infrared rays that heat you up. So you lie baking yourself on this stone for 5 minutes on your stomach and for 10 minutes on the back, and repeat this cycle for three times. Temperature in ganban-yoku is also similar to an infrared sauna. It is 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), what is slightly less than in a typical infrared sauna, but still close to it. There are reports that this bath increases metabolism and stimulates cellular regeneration.

There are about 700 places in Japan where ganban-yoku baths are available, according to the Hayashi Kensentsu Kogyo, a Hokkaido-based construction company that designs these baths.

It is important that this article shows that infrared treatments are becoming widely accepted – at least in Japan. Infrared saunas and hot-stone infrared baths may not have hard science behind them but they are relaxing, stress-relieving, and this alone makes them appealing enough. And people don’t mind to receive a better skin, enhanced circulation and other benefits in addition.

Read article Gonna make you sweat, by Erica Angyal, The Japan Times Online.

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