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Healthy Japan – The Healing Power of Water

Author: Michael Eldridge, Host and Creator of Catch a Sleep. A Wellness and Mindful Living blog. 

While travelling in Japan, I discovered that Japanese culture is rich in holistic healing for the mind, body and soul. This article will explore these unique holistic natural spring water activities for health and let you know how you can try them yourself, even from the comfort of your home!


Hot Bath Culture

One thing I love to do when visiting Japan is take part in Japanese hot spring bathing, a healing and relaxing ritual. 

In Japan, going to a hot spring, also known as an Onsen, is a social and rejuvenating activity steeped in Japanese tradition and history. It is not simply just taking a bath. Japanese onsen culture offers more.

 It is also a way to heal, destress, detox and replenish your body.

Allowing your body to truly destress and enjoy the soothing hot waters of the onsen is a great way to reap the natural health benefits of this particular regional activity. Many thermal hot spring bath houses across Japan offer hot spring baths with various mineral properties and antioxidant-rich waters, aiding in healing numerous health issues. 

Japanese Hot Spring Bathing Health Benefits

Here are the numerous claimed health benefits of onsen bathing.

  1. Improves Blood Circulation 
  2. Supports Metabolism
  3. Pain Relief of sore, tired muscles
  4. Reduces stress, tension and anxiety
  5. Improves Sleep
  6. Improved Skin conditions

Where to go for bathing in Japan? 

My favourite place for bathhouse hoping is a small town called Beppu on the southern island of Kyushu, which I travelled to in 2020. Beppu is a renowned hot spring town in Japan, home to over 2000 bathhouses. The water in Beppu is also famous for its skin moisturising qualities, promoting healthy glowing soft skin to its bathers. 

Beppu was such a discovery, a beautiful small town with impressive steam rising out of man-holes drains and streams. There are even restaurants where you can cook your food from the smoke of the natural volcanic spa waters below. Beppu is also famous for its ‘hells’ (地獄, Jigoku), a selection of seven natural pools in different shades omitting streams of hot steam, reminiscent of the underworld.

Top travel tip: Book a stay at a traditional Ryokan, a Japanese guest house. This will give you an authentic Japanese experience. Many of the ryokans in Beppu come with special access to local Onsen and Sento bathhouses, plus traditional breakfast. 

Don’t worry; you do not need to travel to japan to experience some benefits of onsen bathing culture. Set up your at-home bathing ritual with natural bath salts and some aromatic healing candles to set the mood. 

See also: Top recommended Japanese Bath Salts to try at home. 

Foot Baths Galore

Travelling means a lot of walking, getting up early to see the sunrise and enjoying the different spots around a city or the countryside. One thing I loved about Japan’s travel was the abundance of public feet available in onsen towns.

These footbaths are full of naturally heated thermal waters, often from volcanic sources, just like the bathhouses. So you can get the benefits of the local water and rest your tired feet. These foot baths are also free. 

Top travel tip: when travelling to Japan, you should carry a small hand towel to make the most of public foot baths. Head over to Daiso, the Japanese dollar store, for a bargain. 

Foot Bath Health Benefits 

Here are some health benefits that foot baths could help with: 

  1. Improves sleep 
  2. Reenergises body 
  3. Calms the mind and eases tension 
  4. Soothes pain and tired feet 
  5. Enhances immune system 
  6. Unblocks Qi for body balance 

See also: Amazing Foot Spa – Foot Soaking, an Essential Guide. 

Foot Bath Healing Scents 

Foot baths also invoke the senses, with natural aromas aiding the healing ritual. Some Japanese natural essential oils from hinoki wood, bamboo and Sakura cherry blossom petals are great for a serenely relaxing experience to soak away the stress and anxiety of the day. 

Final thoughts 

These two activities are a priority and highly recommended if travelling in Japan – all year round. Visit an Onsen surrounded by thick winter snow, golden autumn leaves or aromatic Japanese sakura blossom.

Finally, you can experience ‘Healthy Japan’ local culture and tradition through holistic healing and water activities. But if you cannot travel to Japan, don’t worry! You can experience the above at home and still reap the health benefits. 

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